Spyware is watching you.
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I Always Feel like Somebody’s Watching Me. (Well Maybe They Are!)

Spyware Maybe Watching You

Computers can be wonderful tools that allow you to interact with data in ways never thought of before.  Now couple this with the power of the internet connecting all the worlds’ computers into a web of information, with opportunities to buy or sell all sorts of goods to anyone in the entire world. View pictures of animals, people, and fantastic places from around the world, or learn how to do just about anything. All these are all great things can be like bait for criminals. Enter spyware, viruses, and other privacy issues.

This is truly amazing, right?  Well sure, but there are downsides to computing that are all too often overlooked until it’s too late.  You see the darker side of owning a computer and internet connections that many people or businesses don’t give enough thought too until its often too late.

They are spying on you.

Large and small corporations sift through the information and habits of your internet browsing data eagerly looking for ways to convince you to buy their products and services.  Yes, it’s true they are spying on you and it’s all legal. They even have cute names like cookies, and most of us like cookies so we take them.

Question: So you ask what I can do.

Answer: A great first step would be to turn off Java and Flash in your Web browsers.

The programs of Java and Adobe Flash Player plug-ins are common points of vulnerability for many web browsers. Both of the platforms a power a lot of interactive content on the Internet, but these platforms provide too much risk and should be turned off.  Knowing this many websites have already begun to move too much more secure platforms in efforts to eliminate this issue.

Keeping Malware, Anti-Spyware, Computer operating systems updated and patched is also a very important piece.

Cyber Criminals – They can see you.

Hackers, cybercriminals, peeping toms, and weirdoes, in general, can intentionally expose your computer to viruses, malware and other malicious software with the purpose of actually watching or listening to you without you even knowing it.

Question: So What Do I Do?

Answer:   You would always want to be certain your computer and network have up to date, compliant software, hardware patches, malware, firewalls and threat protection in place for best protection but for this specific threat let’s keep the solution simple.   Simply unplug or covering the lens of any unused camera when you’re not using it.  (Not a bad idea to muffle the microphone either if that camera thing really spooked you out)

Data Tracking –My favorite websites are doing what?

Many websites compile and send a lot of information about you, and your habits to other websites. (data tracking)  Some of the information is sent to websites that you may never have even actually visited.  ( A little too much like George Orwell novel for me.)

Question: So what do I do to protect myself?

Answer: This might seem a bit extreme but we would recommend that you consider eliminating any accounts you may have social media websites like Facebook.  Understand that these websites may be a great way to share fun things with friends or family even colleagues.  The problem is that almost any piece of information you post on a social-networking site could later be used hurt you.

Your ATM could be stealing from you too.

ATM’s are the latest devices being used against you by criminals to steal your hard-earned money.  Cybercriminals are using small nearly invisible cameras to record your keystrokes as you enter a PIN.  While card readers called skimmers are added to a compromised ATM to capture data from your cards magnetic stripe.

Question: What do I, how should I handle this?

Answer: Always use caution when using an ATM for the obvious reasons.  (But in addition to your situational awareness if the ATM looks like it might be tampered with don’t use it no cash advance is worth compromising your banking information.). also, you should whenever possible block the line of sight of the keypad when entering your PIN. Remember if the crook in question captured your information through a skimmer they put in the ATM, and they see your PIN, they can now access your account. So by blocking the numbers, on the keypad, you minimize the chances of your PIN being exposed.

Cyber Crime – So you forgot your cell phone when traveling?

If you did not get to hear about the horror stories coming from the winter Olympics in Russia this year (apart from bad water quality, and no doors on the bathrooms) Western travelers are often the victims of very organized efforts to steal data when your traveling.  In fact, the problem is so prolific that travelers often will have their mobile phones confiscated by local authorities, or find that spyware has been installed on laptops and smartphones to steal your information.

Question: What do I do to protect myself?

Answer:  First as the headline suggests.  Leave your phone at home when traveling. If a phone is needed when traveling get a local cell phone which is available on a “Pay As You Go” plan.  And be sure to keep your laptop secure and avoid local Wifi Hot Spots.

Malware – Please Don’t Click The Link.

Most Malware is very strategically placed online.  On infected websites or worse in emails share with you by people you may already know.  These emails will contain links when the link is clicked the malware install onto your computer and goes about stealing information from you.

Question: So what do I do?

Answer:  Much like before you would always want to be certain your computer and network have up to date, compliant software, hardware patches anti-malware, firewalls and threat protection in place for best protection.  In addition to this, NEVER click unsolicited links.  This also goes for websites like Twitter, (if you still use it after we told you to cancel your account.) where it is common to use URL Shortening to hide the links true location.

As always you should have questions concerns or need advice on security concerns or I.T. questions call Slick Cyber Systems at 570-371-5800 we can help answer your questions.