Data Privacy is a Myth

An international media consortium investigated Pegasus Project, which made global headlines. Investigation revealed that an Israel-based software company named NSO had targeted more than 50000 phone numbers across the globe using a spyware application entitled Pegasus. It includes 300 verified phone numbers of opposition leaders, ministers of state, magistrates, business personalities, and journalists from India. Globally, NSO's technology helps government agencies prevent and investigate terrorism and crime. Nowadays, however, spyware is used differently. Its use has increased frequently to carry out a personal attack against any individual.

 

What is Spyware?


It is malicious software or malware that gets installed on mobile or a computer anonymously. The user does not know about it being active on their device. The spyware will steal sensitive information and sends it to the external operator.

 

Spyware is software that installs itself without the user's consent. It has the potential to violate the privacy of end-users. Malware has become a common threat for everyone. Your internet activity is tracked, as well as your login credentials and personal information. Passwords, credit card numbers, and bank details are all accessible.  


It can also serve as stalkerware. During this process, the program will track the victim's location in the background. It can read emails and texts received by the victim. Phone conversations are listened to, and it can access your digital data like photos and videos.



Photo by Michael Geiger on Unsplash
 

It can be challenging to detect spyware in any computing device. The slowdown of the processor and computer is the first indication that the system has already been hit with a virus. In mobile phones, it will reduce battery life and increase data usage. Anti-spyware tools are necessary for preventing or removing spyware. Virus scanners can scan network traffic for malware. They can run scans to detect and remove spyware already present in the system.

 

Function of Spyware


A user can be unaware of spyware when it gets active via an app installation package, a malicious website, or a file attachment. Typically, spyware begins running as soon as the device is turned on and keeps running in the background. In addition, its existence could cause the browser to slow down to the point of becoming unusable by stealing random access memory(RAM) and processor power.

 

It may also make the browser's homepage continuously advertise or manipulate web search results, making the search engine useless. Further, the internet connectivity of a computer fails when spyware infects a dynamic link library. The program can also modify a device's firewall settings, allowing malware into the system with greater ease. Some spyware can detect attempts to remove it from the device registry and intercepts all attempts at removal.


How malware infects the device?


It can infect any Mac, iOS, or Android operating device. It breaches the device by

- downloading pirated games, videos, and music

- utilizing content from unverified sources

- clicking on pop-up ads

- opening malicious email attachments


Links are the most common way used to spread spyware. Emails, pop-up windows, or advertisements may contain the link. Malicious code can also function as an advertisement.


Types of Spyware


In general, there are four types of spyware:


Trojan: This spyware gets delivered to devices via Trojan malware. An unknowingly installed trojan can gain access to your computer by impersonating a legitimate program. Trojans can then delete, encrypt, and compromise files, allowing other attackers to steal user data.


Adware: You may receive deceptive or malicious ads due to Adware monitoring your actions. Infected sites may bundle malicious software, free shareware, and utilities onto websites or install malware on a user's computer when they visit infected websites. The freeware game Elf Bowling came packaged with spyware in 1999, attracting many internet users. Many antimalware programs will flag malicious programs like adware.


The tracking cookie: Websites can track you across the internet with tracking cookies. In contextual marketing, advertisers may use tracking devices to track which web pages a user visits. Getting user information can allow advertisers to target users with pop-up or banner ads to try and lure them into purchasing by tracking user's browser history and downloads


Mobile Spyware: The problem with mobile spyware is that it can be transferred via SMS or MMS and does not require user interaction to execute commands. When a smartphone or tablet gets infected, it can look upon a camera and microphone to collect information about the victim. Additionally, it is possible to track the location of the mobile device's owner by using the Global Positioning System (GPS) and its accelerometer.


How to get protection against Spyware?


Follow the below practices:


1. install software from trusted sources only

2. read terms and conditions before installing

3. update software regularly

4. update the operating system with the latest security patch

5. enable 2 FA(two-factor authorization)

6. use firewalls, antispyware, and antimalware software



What to do after malicious software infects your system?


1. Turn off the internet network
2. Remove unwanted software and reboot the system
3. Scan your device with reputable antivirus software
4. Run antispyware tool through the system


List of Antimalware tools


1. Malwarebytes
2. Trend Micro housecall
3. Windows defender


List of common spyware


1. Cool Websearch
2. Dark hotel
3. Emotet 
4. Gator
5. Zlob



 

 

 

 

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