Spying in real life may not look as cool as in action movies, but it is still a problem. With technological advances and everyone owning multiple electronic devices, people need to take extra steps to secure their privacy.
The year 2022 has been particularly tough for cybersecurity experts. With the ever-looming threat of the pandemic and all the political crises (the main one being the Russia-Ukraine war), it is safe to say that 2023 will not be any easier in this regard.
Cybercriminals are taking advantage of public moods, with new spyware scandals erupting especially frequently. Journalists, politicians, and regular citizens – everyone has to be careful about their privacy these days.
The rise of spyware
One of the most notorious spying scandals is probably the one involving Pegasus, an Israeli-developed program used by many world leaders to combat opposition and free speech.
Pegasus software was found on more than 180 journalists’ phones in 2021. Moreover, it has also been used to target and spy on politicians and opposition figures of ruling political parties in countries such as Spain, Morocco, Poland, and Hungary.
However, politicians and activists are not the only ones at risk. In 2022, spyware attacks contributed to a huge number of all malware attacks.
Why do hackers use spyware?
Spyware is a specific type of malware capable of recording and capturing data. If your phone is infected with spyware, hackers can obtain the following:
- your banking information
- credit card information
- logins and passwords
- other types of personal data.
In today’s information-driven world, this kind of data is very valuable. Having someone’s personal information can lead to identity theft, for example.
How do I know if my phone is infected by spyware?
Spyware, like other types of malware, is difficult to spot. However, there are several tell-tale signs of infection:
- You are consuming odd amounts of data. If your phone is infected with spyware that gathers your data, someone is probably backing it up on their servers. Continually uploading files would use your data, so monitor it carefully.
- Your phone’s performance is slow. If your phone is running slow and lagging, it may be infected with malware. Slowness can be caused by apps and processes running in the background without your knowledge and consuming your phone’s resources. The same is true for extremely fast battery consumption.
- You have strange apps on your phone. While most malicious apps are designed to be hidden, some are easy to spot if you try. Regularly go through your installed apps and pay attention to those that seem strange. If you don’t know where they came from, uninstall them.
If you suspect your phone may be infected with spyware, you should take action immediately, but remember that getting rid of malware is not easy. Usually, the best course of action is restoring your phone’s factory settings, which will also delete all apps and files from your device.
That is why we advise you to take precautions. Avoiding getting infected is the best way to fight all kinds of malware.
How do I protect myself from spyware?
- Be careful about the websites you visit. Some hackers create their own websites to spread malware. These sites may resemble those commonly used – online stores, banks, etc. They are designed to trick you into using them instead of the real ones and may contain malicious files.
- Don’t click on everything you see. Online ads and emails can also be dangerous. We don’t want you to become paranoid, but we want you to pay attention to the things you interact with. For example, some criminals use ad networks to spread malvertising – ads designed to execute malicious codes when clicked. The easiest way to combat this is installing a malware removal tool.
- Have your antivirus program always running in the background. Antivirus software is available not only for computers but also for mobile devices. Take advantage of this and install security software on your phone.
- Download carefully. Always pay attention to where you download files from. Use only official stores to get apps, but even then, read comments and reviews from other users. Official stores can also contain apps created by hackers and designed to steal your data.