Have you ever noticed some changes in the behavioral pattern of your computer or mobile phone? Is your phone heating up out of the blue? Is your computer or your mobile device running slow? If your answer is “YES”, then there might be a possibility that your device is infected with a Spyware attack. But the question lies, “Can Spyware be detected?”
Can you detect “What spyware is on your computer or Phone?”
No, wait, don’t scratch your head, because in this article I will try to answer these two simple yet important queries so that it can help you to analyze them and eradicate the spyware that is residing inside your system.
What is Spyware?
As the name suggests “Spyware” is a kind of malicious software, that is used to spy on the victim’s computer or mobile device. This kind of threat is usually carried out by injecting spyware software into the system by bundling them up with legitimate software, email attachment, or link.
It is designed to run in the background by attaching itself to the system, and then spying on your activity that can help the attacker to steal the data, either for himself or for a third-party organization.
Can Spyware be Detected?
YES! Spyware can be detected only if you run antivirus software or anti-spyware software on your computer or mobile phone. Although there are proven signs that can help you detect spyware infection on your computer system, and they are:
Your phone or computer is heating up:
Every working gadget heats up, as it is a part of its operation and a healthy sign of its functionality, although sometimes you might notice unwanted heating up of your system or mobile device. This might be a clear indication that your device is infected with spyware software.
As spyware software is created with the intent to spy on your online activities, it is designed to function with a low-key detection method. That means you will have difficulties detecting it without the help of any professional tool like anti-spyware.
Therefore, if you notice a sudden spike of heat on your system, act as soon as possible to eradicate spyware.
Battery drain is the most common problem of old devices like laptops or mobile phones, but that does not mean you can overlook it. Sometimes, a rapid battery drain is a sign of spyware software. It sucks up on your mobile phone or laptop’s battery in order to function properly.
Therefore, try to figure out the exact reason for battery drain, and if you find Spyware to be the reason, immediately run an antivirus scan.
Spike in bandwidth usage:
So, if your computer system or your mobile device is infected with spyware, then possibly you will notice a sudden spike in your bandwidth usage, as the spyware usually uses your bandwidth connection to upload, search, and download data either into your computer or some target location.
Meaningless text messages:
So many of us know that usually fraudsters use fake text messages to pursue our attention in clicking those fraud links. Although if you are affected by spyware, you will get meaningless messages.
So, better don’t entertain such text messages as they can cause more harm.
Weird/Unusual sounds while or not on call:
Sometimes we all get those annoying screeching or echoing sounds while we are on a call which is pretty normal and can be caused by faulty network congestion.
But sometimes you might not want to ignore these signs because if you hear a beeping or certain type of noise when you are not using your device, then it might be because of a spyware attack. So, don’t ignore those weird/unusual sounds.
Slow processing speed:
When spyware is installed on your device, it causes a drop in processing speed along with battery drain and sudden spike of heat, because it uses your computer or mobile’s RAM and processor to function. And as this malware is undetectable, you will not be able to point it out for sure.
Although sometimes the slow processing speed might be the result of your exhausted RAM or any storage issue, therefore you might want to check it first before drawing yourself to a conclusion.
Unwanted shutdowns and restarts:
If your computer or mobile device is behaving weirdly and is shutting down/restarting itself automatically, then my friend you might have a company with you. Spywares are designed to overwrite your device’s functionality to gain proper authority.
Therefore, if you notice any unauthorized shutdown or restart, you might be affected by spyware.
Ever came across this particular situation, where you have noticed any suspicious app installed on your computer system? If yes, then there is a chance that the app is Spyware, masqueraded in the form of a trusted/verified app.
Is your phone rooted or jailbreaked?
If you ever come across this situation where you find that your phone is either rooted (Android) or jailbreaked (iPhone), without you doing it, then you are definitely targeted by spyware software. So, check your Android phone with the Root Checker app and your iPhone with Cydia app for root or jailbreak confirmation.
Unknown sources are enabled on your phone:
If you are suspicious of a spyware attack, then you should check whether the “Unknown Sources” option is enabled on your phone. If it is enabled without your permission, you are definitely under spyware attack.
Any suspicious folder or file on your device?
Most of the devices have their extensions for their file like; Android has .apk, iPhone has .ipa, and Windows has .exe. So, if you want to detect whether or not you are affected by spyware, have a close look into your file manager for any suspicious extension.
Although, spyware software can have any kind of file extension. So, if you are not sure of the extension, and don’t want to toy with any legitimate system file, you should probably skip this step.
Well, this might not be the proper way to detect a spyware attack, but it can help you with the process. So, start asking yourself questions like, did you download any media file from an untrusted source? Or did you give someone your phone along with the password, that might have caused this malicious installation, or is your phone trustjacked by someone else?
And, if you find any positive answer to this, then you can assume that your device is probably spyware infected.
What Spyware is on my Computer or Phone?
If by any chance you are affected by a spyware program, then it will take a lot of filter work to land on the exact spyware that is on your computer. So, to lessen your burden I will be providing a few of the common types of spyware programs that can be routed on your computer or phone.
Keylogger is a type of spyware attack that logs your keyboard input without your permission when you are feeding any kind of password or information into your computer. It can also monitor the website visits, email discussions, chatrooms, search history, and system credentials. Therefore, they are also known as “System Monitors.”
They can collect documents that are on connected printers, also the images, audio, and videos. Then they are stored on either your local computer or transmitted to a remote server.
Password stealers as the name suggests are designed to steal passwords from an infected device or computer. Thus, the passwords that are stolen can be web passwords, system logins, network credentials, or critical financial passwords.
Then the stolen passwords are either stored locally on the victim’s computer or are transmitted to a remote server.
Banking trojans mainly modify web pages to take advantage of a browser’s security holes. They mainly target banks, so that they can carry out fake transactions on a fake site, as well as log keystrokes and steal credentials.
They can also modify transactions and route them to the attacker’s account or can transmit the information to another server, that is invisible to both user and web application.
Infostealers scan the computer system or mobile for information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, browser history, log files, system information, documents, spreadsheets, or other media files.
They can also spoof your email contacts into email phishing, steal your financial information, personal information, by exploiting the security holes on the system similar to Infostealers.
It can target your mobile phone’s location, call logs, contact lists, and can even snap your photos through the camera. It can even cause your phone to slow down and hang.
A spyware software developed by Israeli Arms firm “NSO”, to exploit the vulnerability of Android and iPhone. The recent “2021 Pegasus Project” revealed that it could exploit all recent iOS versions up to iOS 14.6.
Audio/ Video trackers
These trackers spy on you by recording your audio and video through a microphone or camera respectively. They then send it to a third party.
Some smartphone apps require permission to access your microphone and camera. These permissions can record you at any time in the form of audio or video and upload photos or videos. They can even put you on Livestream without your acknowledgment.
How to Avoid Spyware Admission?
So, some pointers should be kept in mind to avoid spyware admission, and they are:
- Keep your phones/computer system up to date with security patches.
- Practice keeping a screen lock on your smartphone or your computer to avoid any unauthorized access. Also, feed in some strong passwords so that no one tries to break them.
- Do not root your Android or iPhone devices, as they can open a door for spyware. So, don’t root it unless you know the possible negative outcomes.
- Always keep antivirus or anti-malware software inside your system, so that it can help you detect spyware attacks and eliminate them.
- Stay away from unsecured public Wi-Fi as they are mostly targeted by the attackers, to breach your system and install a spyware application. Also, use a trusted VPN service to stay protected online.
- Run an audit on the apps that are installed on your device to make sure they do not ask for unwanted permission while installation. Never permit them to access your microphone, camera, contact lists, or storage unless they need them.
- Restrict administration privileges on your computer or phone as they can make the spyware installation process much easier.
- Avoid downloading any kinds of stuff from unauthorized or suspicious sites. Also, try not to open or download any attachment that comes with unverified emails.
How to Remove Spyware if it gets into my Computer?
If you ever come across the symptoms of spyware infection, you should follow these simple methods to remove it successfully.
- Run an anti-spyware or an anti-virus app.
- Delete any of the suspicious files or apps that are recommended by the anti-spyware software.
- Change your passwords and pins. Also, if you have biometric access enabled, change the method to prevent remote access.
- Unroot or un-jailbreak your Android or iPhone to eliminate the risk of getting spywared. Updating your iOS system on iPhone helps restore the original un-jailbreaked version.
- Factory data reset your iPhone/Android/Windows device to remove the spyware software completely. But, make sure to take a backup of your data on cloud services.
- And finally, perform a second scan on your data before restoring it with the help of anti-spyware software.
Final Remarks on “Can Spyware be detected”
So, installing a spyware application on a computer system is the most practiced cybercrime activity by hackers. According to the sources, “Around 80% of the internet users are affected with spyware attacks.”
Therefore, it becomes very crucial to detect them by knowing their appropriate type and then eliminating them accordingly. So, this was my insight on “Can spyware be detected”. Hopefully, this discussion will help you in making your gadget spyware free.