What is spyware and how does it work?

I’ve heard that a country can spy on its citizens or record its activities online without being noticed. Wondering how to do it? Yes, it’s spyware. So what is spyware? How does it work? And what can you do to protect your computer, laptop, and other devices from this malicious software?

Read also: 15 most dangerous computer viruses in the world

What is spyware?

Spyware is a type of malware that is used to steal someone’s sensitive information and send it to another person or organization without that person’s permission. This malware can also be used to steal other people’s identities. Stolen information varies, may include bank account details, usernames and passwords, and even other people’s online browsing activities. Spyware is generally used by hostile countries, government agencies, or private companies to monitor their targets.

Spyware was the focus of the technology world in the mid-1990s, when it was used primarily by private companies to monitor user data for marketing purposes. Since then, as the world has become more connected, spyware has become more common, as have the types of agents who use it.

In fact, according to the report MIT Technology Reviewthere are even legal private companies involved in providing surveillance services through spyware, which make huge profits by following journalists and political activists around the world.

Read also: 3 things to check after removing malware from your computer

How does spyware work?

Remember that spyware is the opposite of computer viruses. This means that the spyware program does not harm the files and does not interfere with the victim’s computer. It’s more subtle than that. The main purpose of spyware is to secretly monitor a person’s information and then pass all that information back to its creator or sometimes to a third party. Therefore, a crashed computer may even be counterproductive for its purpose, as it may prevent you from running your system and, in turn, prevent the spyware program from doing what it was designed to do. namely to steal your data.

Spyware sneaks into the system in secret, disguising itself only as secure software. Sometimes, when you visit an infected website, it will run a script that will ask your browser to download the spyware to your device. Historically, this has often happened with Internet Explorer, a browser known for its security holes. This makes Windows an easy target for all types of online threats, including spyware.

Like most security vulnerabilities, spyware infiltration is most likely to be found on systems running Windows. It could be due to its initial design flaws, or it could be the unintended result of having the largest market in desktop operating systems, but if you’re running Windows, you should always be vigilant. For example, let’s look at recording keys. This is a type of spyware that, as the name suggests, keeps your typing logs to steal sensitive data, such as your card or bank details, username, and passwords.

The keylogger steals the information you enter through the keyboard and does it in silence, recording everything you enter. Keylogging is just a type of spyware. There are many other types of spyware. Now that you know how spyware works, let’s take a look at some possible precautions.

How do we protect our computer from spyware threats?

We probably already know that prevention is better than cure. Therefore, here are some ways to prevent spyware.

1. Use the default Antivirus

If you are a Windows user, use Windows Defender antivirus. Formerly called Windows Defender, it is a free antivirus tool created by Microsoft that can deal with low-level threats. If you’re running a Mac, you can use XProtect, Apple’s version of Antivirus Defender.

2. Don’t visit untrustworthy websites

Surprisingly, there are many websites that only spread malware. When you visit a malicious website, it is possible to silently install spyware on your computer, either through advertisements, pop-ups, or through direct downloads. Your browser can notify you if the site you are visiting is questionable or unsafe, especially if there is no SSL certificate, ie the URL is displayed as HTTP instead of your preferred HTTPS.

3. Use Professional Antivirus

Dedicated antiviruses from third parties are the best way to protect yourself from all kinds of online threats, including spyware. Some of them are available for free, but don’t be afraid to pay some money for a decent antivirus, because this is your first line of defense.

4. Do not open unknown emails

After browsing malicious websites, opening or downloading attachments from unknown emails is the second largest cause of spyware infections. Delete all suspicious emails you receive, or at least don’t download any attachments.

5. Avoid downloading using torrents

Administrators understand. Who doesn’t love free and unlimited TV shows and games? What most users don’t realize, though, is that their favorite torrent sites are outbreaks of malicious software, such as malware, worms, viruses, and other malicious programs. Therefore, you can save yourself a lot of trouble by avoiding torrent sites.

6. Keep the operating system updated

Malicious hackers are always looking for new loopholes in computer systems. Therefore, manufacturers regularly release new updates with fixes for common bugs and security vulnerabilities. If you haven’t updated your operating system or the updates are disabled, update now!

7. Download applications from third-party sites

You have to do some creative work, you can edit videos or images, and now you need an application that has more complex functions. Paid apps may not be suitable for everyone, so people are downloading free pirated versions from third-party websites.

These free websites, however, also need to make money, so they can install spyware or adware along with free apps to make money fast. Plus, with so many open source alternatives for almost all popular apps, you don’t have to download pirated apps.


So what is spyware? Spyware is a type of malicious software that tries to sneak into your system and, once there, steals your sensitive data and sends it to its creators. Although there are many ways to remove malicious software, such as spyware, it is best to follow the appropriate security measures and avoid spying on spyware altogether.

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