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Like most malware, spyware finds its way onto your device without your knowledge or permission. Spyware often looks to exploit software or web browser vulnerabilities. If the user is successfully fooled, the dropper then downloads and installs the spyware and thereby converts the user into a victim.


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It can also be downloaded through physical devices, like USB keys. Anti-spyware and malware solutions can help to scan your machine, while users should also look out for common symptoms like computer slowdown, crashes and mass pop-ups, as well as suspicious hard drive activity and running out of HD space.

These can seek to spy on your activities or steal confidential personal information.

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Not all spyware is malicious. Some types of spyware may be installed on purpose, by the computer owner in order to track or monitor the activity of other users secretly. This may be used in some corporate, shared or public computer situations. The negatives about malicious spyware are that it is secret, installed without the user's knowledge and that it can extract data about the user or other data from a computer and send it elsewhere. It can interfere with computer operations, change settings, bring up different home pages, cause loss of Internet service and interfere with the functioning of other installed programs.

It is intended to monitor the activity of the user while on the Internet. The spyware programs can collect and transmit personal information. Advertisers and others are interested in knowing what websites people visit and what are their Internet surfing habits.

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Some can even redirect browser input to land the user on another website than the user intended. Because of its intent to transmit information without user knowledge, it is classified as privacy-invasive software. Spyware is somewhat like adware, which is advertising-supported software.

Developers bundle the adware or spyware within a program. Follow these basics of good cyber self-defense:. But as people have gotten smarter about cyber self-defense, hackers have turned to more sophisticated spyware delivery methods, so installing a reputable cybersecurity program is necessary to counter advanced spyware.


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Look for cybersecurity that includes real-time protection. Real-time protection automatically blocks spyware and other threats before they can activate on your computer. Some traditional cybersecurity or antivirus products rely heavily on signature-based technology—these products can be easily circumvented, especially by new threats. You should also look out for features that block the delivery of spyware itself on your machine, such as anti-exploit technology and malicious website protection, which blocks websites that host spyware. The premium version of Malwarebytes has a solid reputation for spyware protection.

Digital life comes with ubiquitous dangers in the daily online landscape. Fortunately, there are straightforward and effective ways to protect yourself. Between a cybersecurity suite and commonsense precautions, you should be able to keep every machine you use free from spyware invasions and their malicious intent.

What is spyware? And how to remove it

See all our reporting on spyware at Malwarebytes Labs. Want to stay informed on the latest news in cybersecurity? Sign up for our newsletter and learn how to protect your computer from threats. Cybersecurity basics.

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Spyware Spyware is a form of malware that hides on your device, monitors your activity, and steals sensitive information like bank details and passwords. What do I do if I get infected? How do I protect myself from spyware?

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