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Tip of the Week: Understanding Spyware is the First Step to Preventing It

The term ‘spyware’ has some clearly negative connotations to it, and rightly so. This variety of malicious software can cause no small amount of trouble if left unchecked. What follows is a brief overview of spyware, and what measures you can take to protect yourself and your business from it.

Defining Spyware

Spyware is any program that accumulates data from a system without being discovered by that system’s user. Data that is typically targeted includes passwords and credit card credentials, email addresses, and even keystrokes and browsing habits.

The key to a program being labelled as spyware hinges on the idea that it was installed without the user’s consent. This is often accomplished by attaching the malicious software to another program that the user is installing by choice. Spyware can also be spread through other methods that malware utilizes–including compromised websites or emails. Spyware is a massive epidemic, with an estimated 90 percent of home PCs being infected with some form of spyware.

The Issues that Spyware Will Cause

If your system is infected with spyware, it can cause some serious operational deficiencies. Since the device’s resources are tied up by the spyware, your system is likely to run more slowly or even freeze and crash. Some spyware will even change the settings of your device, or manipulate your web browser to visit malicious websites, which opens the floodgates to bigger problems.

Of course, there’s also the other major issue that spyware presents, especially to business users: data leakage. Spyware can make your business vulnerable to other breaches, as access credentials can be recorded and used later by cybercriminals. Financial data and sensitive company information would also be up for grabs, as would effectively any data entered into the infected device.

What You Can Do to Prevent It

Unfortunately, even applying usual best practices (like only downloading things from a trusted source and avoiding unfamiliar or unusual emails) may not be enough to prevent your device from becoming infected with spyware. It is not unheard of that a typically trustworthy website is turned into a spyware distributor after experiencing a breach itself.
Due to this, you need to have the means to protect yourself from a spyware infection, as well as a way to identify and threats like spyware from slipping through. 

Exact IT Consulting’s services and solutions can help you align your technology with your business objectives.

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