Spyware is a type of malicious software (malware) that criminals use to steal information about computer systems, applications, and data. Spyware is mainly designed to gain access to sensitive data and systems so that information can be used for financial gain.
Terms related to Spyware: Trojan, Worm, Virus, Ransomware, Rootkit, Cybersecurity, Vulnerability, Exploit, Authentication, Vulnerability, Patch, Phishing, Backdoor, Breach.
Spyware is typically installed on machines and networks without awareness or permission. Once it is installed, spyware can access certain networks, applications, and data to copy and transmit that information to a hacker or criminal. Spyware is normally installed as the result of exploiting vulnerabilities, targeted attacks, or social engineering.
Spyware can log keystrokes on a computer to capture login details and passwords. Depending on how sophisticated the spyware is, it can also “read” screens and data and steal information like browser histories, email messages, entries into spreadsheets and documents, intellectual property, credit card information, personal identity data, medical records, and more.
Protecting against spyware should be part of an anti-malware, coordinated, complete cybersecurity strategy. Defending against spyware requires access to the right approaches and tools, together with targeted employee training.
Technology like antivirus and firewalls, combined with approaches including monitoring, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, patching, and thorough authentication will all reduce the risk of data theft through spyware.