As a business owner, you have a lot of responsibilities that require your attention day in and day out. On top of that, your website and its safety and security for the sake of your company and staff is another factor you need to look out for.
If your website is already being hosted by V3, great! You’ve got some protection. If not, however, then we need to talk to you about a certain cyber threat called spyware.
What is spyware?
Spyware is usually classified as a form of malware, i.e. malicious software that is designed to damage or gain access to your computer, usually without your knowing about it. When installed, spyware will gather your personal information and relay it back to external users, data firms, and advertisers.
Spyware will monitor all of your activity on the Internet, track your login and password information, and spy on your most sensitive information. It is an infiltrative, undesirable software that tracks and sells your Internet usage data, catch your bank account or credit card information, or even steal your personal identity. Some types of spyware can even install additional software and change the settings on your computer or mobile device.
Spyware is the primary reason why so many people have become a victim of identity theft or credit card fraud. According to Norton Cyber Security, a grand total of 978 million people in 20 countries were affected by cybercrime in 2017. Spyware contributed to that incredible number.
How do I know my business website has spyware?
One of the most difficult facts to swallow about spyware is that if you’re not protected from it already, then it’s very difficult to identify it. It’s a sneaky software that infects computers, websites, and e-mails all over the globe.
It doesn’t help that there are different types of it as well. Four main kinds exist, each one using unique tactics to track your business and its most private information.
- Adware tracks your Internet browser history and downloads, and was built with the intent of identifying the products or services you’re most interested in. The adware will then display false advertisements for the same or similarly related products or services to encourage you to click or make a purchase. It can and will, however, slow down your computer.
- Tracking cookies track all of your web browsing activities, such as history, searches, and downloads. Like adware, these are designed specifically for marketing purposes.
- System monitors will track your every single action and move that you make on the computer. There’s no limitation to what these will track either. Keystrokes, websites you’ve visited, chatroom dialogues, e-mails, programs you’ve run—they record all of these things and more. They’re often disguised as freeware, making them even more troublesome to detect.
- Trojan is one of the most familiar and malicious forms of spyware. It takes on the appearance of legitimate software such as Java or Flash (although once Flash is gone, you’ll know it’s a fake! Here’s why.) Trojan spyware is controlled by third parties whose aim is to access your business’s credit card information and social security numbers.
How did my business website get spyware?
Spyware not only targets Windows users but also Mac, Android, and even mobile devices as well. While Windows programs are more susceptible to these attacks, hackers and cybercriminals are getting better at attacking Apple’s software. Usually when a business’s website or computer gets spyware, it’s because someone did the following:
- They accepted a prompt or pop-up without really reading it first
- They downloaded software from an unknown sender
- They opened an e-mail attachment from an unknown sender
- They didn’t bother updating their browser or its security features
- They visited a file-sharing site without considering its origin
While it’s incredibly difficult to detect, there are certain clues that give away spyware’s presence. The biggest ones are:
- You get pop-ups when you are online or offline.
- Your device is running out of hard drive space.
- Your device is slow or crashes unexpectedly.
How can I protect my business from spyware?
If you’re already signed up with one of our maintenance plans at V3 Media, then congratulations, you’re website is protected from all sorts of cyber threats! This includes spyware, malware, and the dreaded ransomware as well. Our tech support team has been helping to protect businesses and their private information since the 90s, so we know a threat to your business when we see one.
Another great service that V3 offers is Email Virus and Spam scanning.
If not, it may be a good time to hire us especially if your website is not up to date, nor does it contain HTTPS SSL certification.
If you’d like to go the extra mile and even teach some of your staff on how to prevent spyware, practice these actions daily:
- Don’t ever open e-mails from unknown senders.
- Don’t ever download files unless they’re coming from a trusted source.
- Get reputable cybersecurity software installed—talk to your IT support provider about getting that done, if you haven’t already.
- Make sure your Internet browser, your computers’ operating systems, and your computers’ software are updated with the latest security patches and updates.
- Set your browser’s security and privacy levels higher than they are currently.
- Don’t ever click on pop-up ads.
Be smart about what you click on and you’ll spare your company and customers from a world of hurt. Give us a call if you need a website that’s up to date on its security and well-protected from this cyber threat and many more.