Spyware is certainly one of the biggest threats to internet users today, especially in regards to identity theft.
It’s a type of malicious software that can run undetected on a computer and just as the name implies, spy on the user. For the most part, spyware isn’t designed to do harm to the computer, at least nothing obvious, and so it can run undetected for quite a long time.
There are a lot of things people hope to gain out of using spyware.
Some just want to cause trouble but most have criminal intent of some kind. Lately, a huge issue that has been on the rise is identity theft as a result of these malicious applications.
Perhaps the worst thing about it is that the most skilled computer users can easily let spyware slip by them, and the most unskilled computer user can be the one who put it there.
Here are the three key ways in which identity theft can happen as a result of spyware:
Spyware Can Redirect Your Web Browser To Phishing Sites
Some spyware programs that run in the background of a computer system actually function by redirecting the browsing habits of a web user.
For example, imagine you were using your web browser to go to a favorite website.
The redirect software will recognize where you are trying to go and then send you a totally different site that someone has made to mimic the one you wanted. Of course, once on the mimic site any data that you enter can be retrieved by the people operating it.
The dangers there should be obvious. A criminal or a crime organization wanting to capitalize the most out of this type of malicious software would create cloned copies of popular banking sites.
Then, should you have their spyware on your computer and visit one of the banking sites they are mimicking, they will be able to record your card numbers and passwords, as well as other personal information that may be accessible through your bank.
Spyware Can Track Every Action On Your Keyboard
Again, this type of spyware does just what its name says it does. It creates logs of virtually every key you press. That means whether you’re typing a letter, selecting a font or responding to an IM, the information can all be reconstructed with ease. Naturally things would be the same for passwords and username.
The fact that passwords appear on the screen in disguise (ie: the letters don’t usually appear for passwords) won’t hinder this from happening because this software gets its info straight from the keys.
To commit identity theft this way is incredibly simple. When an effected computer user types in banking information, even when not on a banking site, the data will be covertly sent back to the criminal source where they can use it to their benefit.
Spyware Can Control Your Computer Remotely
This software allows for others to control your computer from any place on the planet. They can then do virtually anything they want including stealing personal information. To make this easier for them, they can use the remote access spyware to change browser settings that can result in lowered computer security.
It could also allow them to install key-logging software on your system and have you unknowingly distribute it to others, which another way that spyware spreads across the internet.
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