What is Spyware?– Spyware is a stealthy program that records user’s interaction with the computer and internet without the user’s knowledge and sends them to the remote attackers.
Spyware hides its process, files, and other objects in order to avoid detection and removal.
It is similar to Trojan horse, which is usually bonded as a hidden component of freeware programs that can be available on the internet for download.
It allows attacker to gather information about a victim or organization such as email address, user logins, passwords, credit cards numbers, banking credentials, etc.
as its name implies, the installation of spyware is done without user knowledge or consent, and can be accomplished by “piggybacking” the spyware onto other applications. This is possible because spyware uses advertising cookies, which is one of the spyware subclasses. Spyware can also affect your system when you visit a spyware distribution website. Because it install itself when you visit and click something on website; this process is known as “drive-by downloading.”
What Does the Spyware Do?
As discussed earlier, we are now familiar with spyware and its main function of keeping its eyes on user activities performed on the target computer. We also knew that once the attacker succeds in installing spyware on a victim’s computer anyway by means of propagation techniques discussed earlier , they can do many offensive things to the victim’s computer.
The installed spyware can also help the attacker peform the following on target computers:
- Steals user’s personal information and sends it to a remote server or hijacker.
- Monitors user’s online activity
- Displays annoying pop-ups
- Redirects a web browser to advertising sites.
- Changes the browser’s default setting and prevents the user form restoring.
- Adds several bookmarks to the browser’s favorites list
- steal your passwords.
- Sends you targeted email.
- changes the home page and prevents the user from restoring.
- Change firewall settings
- Monitors and reports websites you visit.
Types of Spyware
Today, various spyware programs engage in a variety of offesive tasks, such as changing browser settings, dislplaying ads, collecting data, and so on. Through may spyware applications a diverse array of benign activites, 10 major types of spyware on internet allow attacker to steal information about users and their activities, all without their knowledge or consent.
Desktop Spyware that allows an attacker to gain information about a user’s activity or gather personal information about the use and send it via the Internet to third parties without the user knowledge or consent.
Desktop spyware allows attackers to perform the following:
- Live recording of remote desktops.
- Recording and monitoring Internet activities.
- Recording software usage and timings
- Recording activity log and storing at one centralized location.
- Logging user’s keystrokes.
Email spyware is a program that monitors, records, and forwards all incoming and outgoing email. Once installed on the computer that you want to monitor, this type of spyware records the sends copies of all incoming and outgoing emails to you through a specified email address or saves the information on the local disk folder of the monitored computer. It is also capable of recording instant messages (e.g AIM, MSN, Yahoo,MySpace,Facebook)
Internet Spyware is a utility that allows you to monitor all the web pages accessed by the users on your computer in your absense. It makes a chronological record of all visited URLs. This automatically loads at system startup and runs in stealth mode, which means that its runs in background undetected. It provides a summary report of overall web usage, such as websites visited, and the time spent on each website, as well as all application opened along with the date/time of visits.
Child-monitoring spyware allows you to track and monitor what children are doing on the computer, both online and offline. This allows you to protect children form accessing inappropriate web content by setting specific keywords that you want to block. It sends a real-time alert to you whenever it encounters the specific keywords on your computer or whenever your children want to access inappropriate content.
Screen Capturing Spyware
Screen capturing spyware is a program that allows you to monitor computer activities by taking snapshots or screenshots of the computer on which the program is installed. This takes snapshots of the local or remote computer at specified time intervals and saves them either in a hidden file on the local disk or sends them to an email address or FTP site predefined by the attacker.
USB Spyware is a program designed for spying on the computer that copies spyware files from a USB device onto the hard disk without any request and notification. It runs in hidden mode, so users will not be aware of the spyware or the surveillance.
It captures all the communications between a USB device and its host and saves it into a hidden file for later review. The USB spyware uses low system resources of the host computer. This works with its own timestamp to log all the activites in the communication sequence. USB Spyware does not containg any adware or other spyware. It works with most recent varient of Windows.
- USB Spyware copies files from USB devices to your hard disk in hidden mode without any request.
- It create a hidden file/directory with the current date and begins the background copying process.
- It allows you to capture, display,record, and analyze data transferred between any USB device connected to a PC and Applications.
Audio Spywares is a sound surveillance program designed to record sound onto the computer. The attacker can install the spywares on the computer without the permission of the computer user in a slient manner without sending any notification to the user. The audio spywares runs in the background to record discreetly. Using audio spywares does not require any administrative privileges.
Video Spywares is software for video surveillance installed on the target computer without the user’s knowledge. All video acitivity can be recorded according to a programmed schedule. The video spywares runs transparently in the background and secretly monitors and records webcams and video IM conversions. The remote access feature of video spywares allows the attacker to connect to the remote or target system to activate alerts and electric devices, and see recorded images in a video archive or even get live images from all the cameras connected to this system using a web browser such as Internet Explorer.
Attackers can monitor the printer usage of the target organization remotely by using print spywares. Print Spywares is printer usage monitoring software that monitors printers in the organization. Print spywares provides precise information about print activites for printers in the office or local printers, which helps in optimizing printing, saving costs and so on.
Telephone/Cellphone spywares is a software tool that gives you full access to monitor a victim’s phone or cell. It will completely hide itself from the user of the phone.
Most common telephone/cellphone spywares features include:
- Call History : Allows you to see the entire call history of the phone.
- View Text Messages : Enables you to view all incoming and outgoing text messages. It even shows deleted messages in the log report.
- Web Site History : Records the entire history of all websites visited through the phone in the log report file.
- GPS Tracking : Shows you where the phone is in real time.
GPS spywares is a device or software application that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) to determine the location of a vehicle, person, or other attached or installed asset. An Attacker can use this software to track the target person.
Spytech SpyAgent is a computer spy software that allows you to monitor everything users do on your computer-in total secrecy. SpyAgent provides a large array of essential computer monitoring features, as well as website, application, and chat client blocking, logging scheduling, and remote delivery of logs via email or FTP.
It can also allow you to monitor following things on a user’s computer:
- It can reveal all websites visited.
- It records all online searches performed.
- It monitors what programs and apps are in use.
- It can track all file usage and printing information.
- It records online chat conversations.
- It uncovers secret user passwords.
- It monitors social networking behaviors.
How to Defend Against Spyware
Spywares is any malicious program installed onto a user’s system without the user’s knowledge and gathers confidential information such as personal data and access logs. Spywares comes from three basic sources: free downloaded software, email attachments, and websites that automatically install spywares when you browse them.
- Try to avoid using computer system which is not totally under your control.
- Adjust browser security settings to medium or higher for Internet zone.
- Be cautious about suspicious emails and sites.
- Enable Firewall to enhance the security level of the computer.
- Update the software regularly and use a firewall with outbound protection.
- Regularly check task manager report and MS configuration manager report.
- Update virus defination files and scan the system for spywares regularly.
- Install and use anti-spywares software.
There are many anti-spywares application available in the market, which sanc your system and check for spywares such as malware, Trojan, dialers, worms, keyloggers , and rootkits, and remove them if found.
SUPERAntiSpyware is a software application which can detect and remove spywares, adware, Trojan Horses, roughe security software, computer worms, rootkits, parasites, and othe potentially harmful software applications.
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