You’ve heard of spyware, right? It’s illegal for a stranger (or even someone you know) to install spyware on your computer and spy on you. This is why it’s crucial for your device to have some kind of spyware protection.
I’m an online security specialist, and I’m going to explain how you can protect yourself from spyware.
But I first want to point out that many parents – perhaps you yourself – use this very same technology to keep tabs on their kids’ computer and smartphone activities. And it’s perfectly legal to do so. It’s referred to as domestic surveillance.
For instance, SMS Tracker is a clever app that can monitor your kids’ online activities. This app can do anything you order it to upon installation, including track where your children are in physical space.
There are two versions: One lets the user know it’s running by showing an icon, and one that, while running, does not let the user know it (the second version is great for parents-but also precisely what a criminal wants).
Outside of parental monitoring, this kind of technology is considered “spyware,” though the vendors who promote these applications market them as smart ways of remotely watching over your kids.
You can clearly see how this kind of app can be abused: installed on, for instance, an ex-lover’s device. You can see those worms slithering out of that opened can. However, parameters regarding what’s legit and what’s illegal with these kids of apps have not been universally spelled out-they are somewhat blurred.
But case-by-case incidents are making marks, such as the former U.S. sheriff who was given a probationary sentence because he installed one of these apps on his wife’s work computer to spy on her.
Protection from Spyware
Apps such as described above can be installed remotely, not just directly. You can protect your device as follows:
- Never click on a link in an e-mail or text, as it can direct you to a malicious download.
- Never separate from your device when you’re in public; never let anyone use it. If they claim they need to make a call due to an emergency, you can make the call.
- Your mobile should require a password for access. A password-protected phone makes spyware installation difficult.
- If you believe your phone’s been bugged with spyware, then reinstall its operating system. Simply confer with the device’s user manual. Or, call the carrier’s customer service for instructions.
- If your phone has seemingly developed a mind of its own, or it’s “behaving” oddly lately, this probably means it’s been possessed by spyware. It’s time to reinstall the device’s operating system.