Spyware won’t necessarily ask you for a ransom, but it will monitor your activities and log your data without your knowledge.
Furthermore, these malicious programs or snitches can do anything from hijacking your webcam’s video link to recording keystrokes. From there, they can also gather enough personal data to steal your identity, steal your accounts, or expose your digital life.
But with a little discipline, a watchful eye, and a few dollars a year, you can stay safe from spyware.
Run system and software updates
Let’s start with the good news, even as spyware is getting smarter and more sophisticated, as are web browsers and operating systems integrating more security tools. However, and it costs nothing, you should always keep your system, programs and security tools up to date with the latest patches released by their vendors.
Protect your system with antivirus software
Along with system updates, robust antivirus software for Windows and macOS will protect you from a wide range of malware, keyloggers, and other webcam hacks.
Before making your choice on antivirus software, count the number of devices to protect; in addition to your computers, there are certainly tablets and smartphones in the house.
To cover them, there are plans on the market that cover all types of devices; Bitdefender, McAfee, Norton, Avira, Avast are just a short list of antivirus vendors. Go to www.av-comparatives.org for independent reviews. By shopping around, you can reduce the annual cost by subscribing for more than a year.
MacOS security information
Despite the qualities of the macOS system, experts recommend strengthening its defenses by adding an antivirus package. There are several good reasons for this. First, Apple’s approach may be adequate for established malware if you update as soon as it’s released, but it may not respond quickly enough to new threats. Second, you get broader coverage against malware. Third, macOS is not immune to bugs. For more details on antiviral defense functions, please read the note
at the end of the text.
On the Windows 10/11 system side, the situation is simpler, Microsoft already offers its own antivirus software – Windows Security – use it. On the other hand, your other devices will still require an antivirus.
If you want more protection on Windows, the free version of Spybot Search & Destroy performs deep scans as an extra layer of defense. Or even Norton Power Eraser if you suspect that your main antivirus seems powerless to detect the possible pirated program.
Microsoft Windows Security
More than one user per computer?
Likewise, and even if all family members are trustworthy, don’t share your user account with another person. Password protect these accounts and create one account per user. In Windows, do this by going to Settings> Accounts; in macOS, in the Apple menu> System Preferences> Users and Groups.
Be careful what you install
Also, you will need to be careful what you install on your computer and where you download it from.
Harmless messages, email attachments, social media content, fraudulent web links, cyber threats can come from anywhere.
oz – stock.adobe.com
Watch out for suspicious signs
If, despite your software’s defenses and discipline, your computer appears to be taking suspicious actions, such as a sudden drop in performance, high hard drive or CPU usage, or unexpected application launches in the middle of a session, it is that there is an eel under the rock. Or windows that appear briefly and then disappear again, a sign that a program is loading and then hiding.
Other strange actions include mouse movements or unexplained text input, which could be a sign of something unknown running in the background; changes to operating system settings; and the appearance of app shortcuts you may not have noticed before.
To find out for sure, in Windows, go to Task Manager, select the Processes tab to check the applications and all processes in use. On macOS, open the Activity Monitor tool, run Command +1 to open the Activity Monitor window (also available in the Windows menu), and select the Processor tab to sort the list of programs based on the system resources they have.
This may sound very complicated to you, but keep an eye out for any suspicious or unknown processes and do a quick web search of their names to find out what they are.
For example, a malicious program could use your computer’s “free” processing capabilities to generate (mine) bitcoins.
Adobe Stock Photo
* To understand how macOS defenses work, Apple incorporates some anti-malware features. First, there is “Gatekeeper”, which alerts you when unsigned applications are running. Then there is “XProtect”, which checks files for known malware signatures. Finally, Apple provides the MRT (Malware Removal Tool). Gatekeeper and MRT are essentially invisible to users and have no direct user interface.