Malware called spyware may be lurking on your computer right now, snooping on your charity’s confidential data. Spyware can cause catastrophic damage to your charity, but chances are if your computer is infected you won’t know it exists.
What is spyware?
Spyware, like ransomware, is a type of malware or malicious software. But while ransomware makes its presence obvious by preventing an infected computer from functioning properly and displaying a ransom note, spyware is much more stealthy.
It is designed to remain undetected on an infected computer while it collects data which may include passwords, credit card numbers, email addresses, browsing and search records, and other information. confidential. It then transmits this information to a cybercriminal who will exploit it himself or sell it to other cybercriminals.
How do you know if your computer is infected with spyware?
This is usually not the case, although some spyware can significantly slow down your computer.
But some spyware allows its presence to become obvious soon after the initial infection. After stealing all the confidential data that it finds, it may start showing advertisements on your screen, or it may carry out search engine hijacking.
When this happens, your Google searches will produce results from a different search engine which may include more advertisements or links to phishing sites.
What are PUPs?
There is also a type of spyware which, strictly speaking, is not malware. Rather, it is classified as a “PUP” or “potentially unwanted program”. This type of spyware may give you some benefits, but its real purpose is to get information from your computer.
In many cases, these programs have an End User License Agreement (EULA) that you must agree to before installing the program and hidden in the EULA are terms that mean you have unintentionally agreed that the program may take information and transmit it to spyware. authors.
How do charities get infected with spyware?
Generally speaking, charities can be infected with spyware in the same way that they can be infected with ransomware or any other malware. Clicking on malicious links, downloading and installing unknown software, or opening email attachments can all lead to spyware infection.
Spyware that falls under the PUP category can also come in the form of a seemingly harmless program that is installed as an option when other software is installed. For example, you can download a program and have the choice between an “express” or “custom” installation.
Clicking on “express” will give the program permission to install additional software such as a purchase price comparison program. This software is often virtually useless to you, but it can extract valuable information for the author.