Detecting spyware or spy viruses on the cell phone and computer is necessary to prevent our personal and/or financial information from being stolen by someone else.
SECURITY ALERT: Spyware or spy viruses make it easier than ever for perpetrators to harass, track, monitor and stalk their victims.
Stalkers, stalkers, and other attackers can now use spyware to secretly monitor what you do on your computer or on a portable device, such as a cell phone. If you suspect you are being stalked or monitored, be aware that..:
Trying to search your computer or cell phone for spyware could be dangerous, as the attacker could be alerted to your searches immediately.
Use a more secure computer (one that the stalker does not have remote or physical access to) to search the Internet or send e-mail that you would not want an attacker to intercept.
What is a Spyware or Spyware Virus?
Spyware is software or a hardware device that allows an unauthorized person (such as an attacker) to monitor and secretly collect information about the use of your computer.
There are many types of software and hardware devices that can be installed to monitor computer activities.
They can be installed on your computer without your knowledge and the person installing them does not even need to have physical access to your computer.
Spyware is invasive, intrusive and can put victims at great risk.
How does spyware or spyware virus work?
Spyware can track every key you type, every software application you use, every website you visit, every chat or instant message you send, every document you open, and everything you print.
Some spyware gives the person who is monitoring the ability to freeze, shut down or reboot their computer. Some versions even allow the attacker to remotely turn on the webcam or make the computer talk.
Once spyware is installed, it can operate in stealth mode and is difficult to detect or uninstall.
If the person who installed it has physical access to your computer, they can log in with a special password to see all computer activity (emails sent, printed documents, websites visited, and more) since the last time they logged in.
Authors who do not have physical access to their computer can receive reports showing all their computer activities, including copies of emails and instant messages sent, websites visited and more.
As well as computer screenshots every few seconds. All this can happen without the user’s knowledge.
Below are the computer activities that can be easily monitored:
How does spyware or spyware virus get into my computer?
Abusers can install spyware on your computer if they have physical or Internet access to your computer. Some abusers may hack into your computer from another location over the Internet.
Some may send you spyware as an attachment that is automatically installed when you open the email.
Others may email or instant message a greeting card, video game, or other trick to trick you or your kids into opening an attachment or clicking on a link.
Once opened, the program automatically installs spyware on the victim’s computer, in stealth mode, without notification or consent, and can then send electronic reports to the abuser over the Internet.
Although most spyware is software-based (a program that can be installed on your computer), there are also spyware hardware devices called keyloggers.
These keylogging devices may appear to be a normal part of the computer; for example, it may be a special keyboard with keylogging capability or a small device that connects the keyboard to the computer.
Once the keylogger is connected to the computer, it can record every keystroke, capturing all passwords, personal identification numbers (PINs), websites visited and e-mails sent.
How do I know if I have spyware on my computer?
Even if a computer is monitored by spyware, there may not be any noticeable change in the way the computer works (i.e., the computer may not slow down or freeze).
You may suspect that your computer is being monitored because of the abuser’s suspicious behavior: for example, he knows too much about your computer activities.
If you suspect someone has installed spyware to monitor your activities, talk to a victim advocate before attempting to remove the spyware.
Law enforcement or a computer forensic expert can help you if you want to preserve evidence that may be needed in a criminal investigation.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to detect spyware on your computer. If a hardware device has been installed, you may see an additional component between the computer and the keyboard cable, or it may be the keyboard or mouse itself.
On laptops, the hardware device would be installed inside the laptop through the access panel. The anti-spyware software cannot be detected by the anti-spyware software.
Spyware often runs in stealth mode using disguised file names that look legitimate. Sometimes, running anti-spyware software can detect this type of spyware, but not all spyware.
Tips for Survivors
Trust your instincts and look for patterns. If your abuser knows too much about the things you only said by email or instant messaging or about the things you did on your computer, there may be spyware on your computer.
It is all recorded. If you suspect that your computer is being monitored, remember that everything you do, including spyware research and computer surveillance, will be revealed to the attacker.
Develop a strategy around the security issues that can arise if the attacker believes you know and tries to take control of your computer. If you can, use a safer computer when searching for resources about domestic or sexual violence.
It may be safer to use a computer at a public library, community center, or Internet café.
Deleting or clearing your Internet browsing history or removing documents from your computer will not prevent spyware from capturing what you are doing.
Spyware will record everything you do, including attempts to delete your browsing history.
Create new accounts and change passwords. If you suspect that a malicious person may be accessing your email or instant messaging (IM), consider creating additional email/IM accounts on a more secure computer.
Do not create or check new email or instant messaging accounts from a computer that can be monitored.
Look for free email accounts on the web and consider using unidentifiable names and account information. (Example: email@example.com, not firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Also consider changing passwords for sensitive accounts, such as online banking, social media accounts, etc. From a more secure computer.
New software or new hardware?
Be suspicious if someone abused a new keyboard, cable or software or upgraded or “fixed” the computer, especially if it coincides with increased surveillance or stalking.
Be careful about gifts the abuser gives you or your children, such as new keyboards, cell phones or computer games, as they may contain spyware.
Preventive Measures You Can Take: There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of spyware. Keep in mind that these suggestions will help prevent spyware from installing and working optimally before your computer is compromised.
Install and activate a firewall. There are software and hardware firewalls. If your computer does not have a firewall, you can download the software for free.
Have a virus protection program installed. Make sure your anti-virus definitions are up to date, as new dangerous viruses are released daily and your computer is scanned regularly.
This may involve setting up your computer to automatically update your virus definitions and run daily virus scans. When your anti-virus software subscription ends, be sure to renew it.
Install antispyware or antivirus programs and make sure that spyware databases are automatically and regularly updated.
These programs will only protect you against spyware or spy virus programs, but not against hardware devices such as the keyboard.
Buy a new computer. It is almost impossible to remove, delete or completely uninstall spyware from your computer. The safest way to ensure that your computer is no longer monitored is to buy a new one.
Be careful when moving files (including software, documents, pictures, videos) from the infected computer to the clean computer, as spyware can reinstall itself on the new computer.
Include children and other family members. It is important that you and your children are informed about spyware and make sure that children do not inadvertently install spyware on the computer.
Talk to your children about opening emails from people they don’t know or opening attachments from the abuser.
A harmless picture or video can be something the child wants to see, but it can also contain spyware.
Instead of sharing files and media by email between you and the abuser and children, consider creating online spaces to share photos, videos, and documents.
Some online spaces will allow you to create private spaces so that no one but authorized users can access them.
Security when removing spyware. Many abusers use spyware to monitor and control survivors.
Some abusers may intensify their control and surveillance if they suspect that the survivor is cutting off their access. Think about your safety when considering ways to protect yourself.
Spyware or cell phone spyware
Spy software is now available for cell phones and other handheld devices, so authors can track phone activity.
Including calls and texts sent or received, recording conversations and even acting as a listening device.
The abuser will need physical access to the phone to manually install software on the phone.
If you suspect that your cell phone is being monitored, watch for excessive battery or data use and suspicious behavior by the abuser.
You can take steps to protect your phone by putting an access code on your phone and running an anti-spyware/anti-malware application on your phone if it has this capability.
(Note that some phone activity can be monitored without spyware. Phone records can be obtained by guessing your account password and accessing your account online or by viewing the call history stored on the phone.