"We all know the feeling. You're scrolling through your phone, and there it is. An ad that you can tie back to a recent conversation with a friend." Thus begins a recent article from Kim Komando, a radio show host who focuses on technology. Advertisers have used user meta-data for a long time to market their products, but they're not the only ones who may be tracking you. Sometimes, hackers will use spyware to follow your movements online. Fortunately, Komando offers some tech tips that anyone can use to investigate potential threats on their hard drives.
Checking for Bad Actors
"Spyware [a form of malware designed to track user activity] is subtle in comparison to other types of malware," Komando writes. "It hides in your system, keeping track of every password you type, every video call you make and every email you send."
Of course, one could spend a bunch of money fancy malware programs (to be clear, we do recommend you invest in a reliable anti-virus software). However, you can sometimes tell if there is active spyware on your computer without spending any money.
If you suspect there's spyware on your computer, Komando's first recommendation is to open your task manager. The task manager shows you all of the programs currently running on your computer. The procedure to opening it will vary between operating systems--the article gives detailed instructions on how to open your task manager on different systems--, but once it's open there some things you can check for, which indicate the presence of spyware.
Spyware and other malware often force different applications to open in the background. As such, if you see processes start-up on their own in your task manager that may be a sign that some mischief is afoot.
Of course, some programs are designed to start on their own, so you should always check to see which programs are set to begin automatically during your computer's start-up. Komando offers some step by step advice for verifying which programs have automatic start-up in place.
The article stresses the importance of keeping your OS and security programs up to date. Waiting for updates to download and install then waiting for your computer to reboot can be onerous, but it's still important. OS updates often come with patches for recent security problems, so if you aren't updating your computer, you're leaving yourself vulnerable.
Like we said before, we also recommend you invest in some strong anti-virus and monitoring software. Thankfully, those are pretty easy to find. Many anti-virus software products have versions for both individuals and businesses, so you should be able to find a product that fits your needs.
Speaking of businesses, ransomware attacks on firms have become more common within the last year. Ransomware is a specific kind of malware, which locks users out of a computer network with advanced encryption. Cyber criminals then demand the owners of that network pay a ransom in order to unlock it. If you're a business and you're worried about ransomware attacks, we recommend you invest in cybersecurity insurance to curb your losses in the event on an attack.
There are some other measures you can take as well, like keeping secure, offline back ups and having concise written, accessible emergency procedures ready for staff members in case they need to act quickly. In truth, security infrastructure requires ongoing maintenance and intervention. Titan Tech can keep you abreast of different security threats on the horizon, advise on security infrastructure, research the right monitoring products to fit your needs and even help train your staff. Give them a call today for a free consultation.
And join us later this week for more tech news.