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what is spyware

What Is Spyware And How Does It Work?

What Is Spyware?

Spyware Definition: Spyware is a type of malware that enables someone to retrieve private information from another’s cell phone, tablet, or computer.

Spyware is often compatible with the latest device models and operating systems and is designed to be undetectable. It can be used to collect data on a variety of online activities from social media to text messages. For example, this software could be used to Snapchat spy on someone and retrieve their in-app messages and media.

The common reasons why spyware is used:

  • To collect users’ data to sell to third-parties.
  • To steal someone’s personal information and/or identity.
  • To keep an eye on a child or employee.

4 Types of Spyware

what is spyware

  • Cookie Trackers

A Cookie Tracker is a non-harmful spyware that gathers information about a person’s internet activities. This includes downloads, web browsing history, web searches, websites visited, etc. Usually, the information obtained is used to better tailor online marketing towards a specific person. Even though Cookie Trackers aren’t harmful, there is the concern about data privacy and the disclosure of information that’s collected.

  • Adware

The purpose of Adware is pretty similar to that of cookie trackers. The data retrieved from using Adware is used to help make display and pop-up ads more appealing to a particular person. This spyware tracks someone’s web searches, websites visited, and downloads.

  • System Monitors

This software is used to monitor someone’s device activities and record the data from it. This data could include emails, texts, social media activity, web browsing history, passwords, and personal information. Often, people use monitoring spyware with bad intentions, but sometimes that isn’t the case. Parents use spyware every day to keep an eye on their children, making sure they are safe.

  • Trojans

Trojans are like a person in disguise, they aren’t what they appear to be. Trojans are often portrayed as real apps, documents, or software. This is done in order to fool people into downloading it. This spyware is known for corrupting data files and causing a device’s system to run slowly or malfunction.

How Does Spyware Work?

Spyware works in different ways depending on the type. The most common methods of infecting a device with spyware include:

  • Remotely or physically installing the spyware on the intended device.
  • Downloading an app or software from a non-secure source.
  • Accessing pirated content online.
  • Connecting to non-secure or fake Wi-Fi networks.
  • Opening suspicious email attachments.

Once your device is infected with spyware, the user could obtain your device and personal information without your knowledge.

Ways To Prevent Spyware From Infecting Your Device

antivirus software

  • Install An Antivirus Software

The easiest and most simple way to prevent spyware is by installing antivirus software on your device. The minute it detects suspicious activity or software, it will quarantine the threat before it does any damage. Check out the top antivirus software programs.

  • Don’t Click On or Download Anything Suspicious

If an online ad, link, or software download looks suspicious in any way, don’t click on it. Trust your gut. If you’re even slightly questioning the legitimacy of the product, company, or site, you probably have a right to be.

  • Keep Your Device Updated

To help your device run faster and make it more secure, it should have the latest update. By ignoring your device updates, you’re potentially exposing it to an online world of dangers. It’s better to be safe now than regret it later.

  • Only Connect To Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Often, spyware is remotely installed on to a device through a non-secure or fake Wi-Fi network. To prevent this, only connect to private networks or public networks that you know are secure like your local coffee shop.


So, those are the answers as to what is spyware, as well as how it works. Implement some of the preventative measures mentioned above, so your device doesn’t become infected with spyware.

Read our other spy-related articles on Safeguarde!

About Holly Zink

Holly Zink
I am interested in everything digital media and tech! Videos, photography, social media.

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