The risk of spyware for businesses – Proven ways for detection and removal

The internet is an indispensable part of working life for most people, but it brings risks and dangers with it. Spyware is one such danger – malicious software which puts your business at risk. Let’s take a look at the different types of spyware, why spyware is so dangerous, and then how to detect and remove spyware.

Types of spyware: Spyware examples

There are several different kinds of spyware, therefore it is good to be familiar with what you could be facing. Let’s zoom in on the most common types of spyware that could threaten your business:

  • Browser hijack: This form of spyware happens when an internet browser gets unwanted software changing its activity, such as showing lots of ads and stealing sensitive information.
  • Adware: This kind of spyware will persistently show ads whilst you’re using your computer. It can be distracting, but the main problem is that there are forms of adware that are known as Potentially Unwanted Applications (PUAs), which can be malicious and leave the door open to viruses and other malware.
  • Keyloggers: This is a sophisticated form of spyware in which your keystrokes are recorded, meaning that information is liable to be shared outside of your organization. Keylogging can also be legal, for example if an IT department needs to help you. However, in terms of spyware, it is often used for criminal activity.
  • Sound recording: It ioften comes in the form of a software that will hijack a device’s audio recorder and record audio without the user’s knowledge. This can lead to sensitive information being leaked.

Spyware: A hacker with “personal data” file on the hook

How can spyware affect a business

Spyware can have enormous effects on a business. Not only can it disrupt the daily flow of business, but, in the worst case, it could tarnish your business’ reputation with your clients and put you and them at risk. For example, spyware can steal sensitive information such as personal data and intellectual property, things which people and businesses are particularly sensitive about keeping secure. In a more extreme form, spyware can even commit identity theft by logging keystrokes so that credit card numbers and passwords can be communicated to the hacker.

Furthermore, spyware is able to track any digital movements and redirect URLs to malicious websites – all of which can be a real hassle in daily work life. Spyware can cause even more chaos by shutting down computer systems meaning that certain vital information is in danger of being destroyed, such as financial records.

Spyware removal can be difficult, so upfront prevention is worthwhile. Companies should also put a major focus on educating employees and introducing clear guidelines. This seems superfluous to say, but reminding employees of the basics, such as not opening untrusted sites, not installing software without manager approval, and updating software regularly, pays off.

How to detect and remove spyware

Sometimes the signs of spyware are obvious. They can appear as numerous pop-up windows, frequent system errors, or sluggish computer performance. However, in most cases it is not so easy. That’s when, anti-virus software will come in handy. But it is worth remembering that it scans known target areas of spyware and compares computer files with a spyware database, which means that the software will only detect known threats (this problem can be solved to a large extent with the help of AI-based antivirus software ).

Spyware is designed to be difficult to remove. One infection can open the door to many others. This makes manual attempts to remove spyware unsuccessful in most cases.

AI and machine-learning-based software is an alternative option for anti-spyware software. A solution such as HyverLight is a great option to continuously assess the state of cybersecurity in SMEs, using advanced algorithms and graph-modelling. The HyverLight solution was developed through ALSO’s collaboration with CYE. This highly elaborate and affordable offer delivers a clear evaluation of threats in one interface. It also requires no great technical knowledge and is easy to use, without requiring agents or installations.