How to detect spyware

How to Detect Spyware on Your System

Spyware has become more than a simple nuisance for businesses. Hackers have learned to make the malware perform a list of harmful tasks, including:

  • Redirecting browsers to fake websites that will steal information from your employees.
  • Tracking keystrokes to learn account names and passwords.
  • Gathering information that criminals can use to commit identity theft.
  • Shutting down your system or erasing important files that you need to serve clients.
  • Turning your computer into a server that distributes other harmful malware to coworkers and clients.

Knowing how to detect spyware will make it much easier for you to remove the malware before it does significant harm. The following steps should help to detect spyware on your system and protect everyone connected to an infected computer.

Know the Common Symptoms of Spyware

The first signs that you have spyware rarely come from diagnostic tests. Your employees and managers will notice common symptoms that interrupt them during the day.

Educate everyone within your organization so they know to report potential spyware to the IT department when they notice:

  • Pop-up ads that start appearing more frequently than usual.
  • Internet browsers getting redirected to other websites.
  • Strange, scary warnings telling the user that they need to protect their computer by paying for a malware scan or similar service.
  • System tools that don’t work as efficiently as they once did or stop working completely.
  • Slow speeds they cannot explain.

Any of these symptoms could mean that you have some type of malware. Is it spyware? You will need to inspect to determine that.

Track Network Traffic Over Time

Spyware can hijack some of your system’s processing power to perform unauthorized tasks, such as bitcoin mining, executing DDoS attacks, or sending malware to other computers.

When spyware executes unauthorized commands, you will probably see a spike in network traffic. Of course, traffic spikes occur throughout most days. Within your industry, offices might experience peaks immediately after regular business hours, when people reach out for customer services. You know that these network traffic peaks will happen, so you plan for them.

Spyware will typically cause spikes during lulls in the day. When you track your network traffic, you might notice that unexplainable increases happen at odd times of the day. If you see these spikes, you could have malware taking advantage of your processing power.

Use Anti-Malware Software to Detect Spyware

Plenty of software developers make tools that know how to search for spyware on your network. Popular options include:

  • Bitdefender
  • Malwarebytes
  • Microsoft Defender

Antivirus software doesn’t give you the robust services that you can expect from a cybersecurity expert, but they do an excellent job locating and deleting common spyware.

Share Threat Reports With Department Heads and Executives

Spyware can spread quickly through your organization’s computers and other devices. When you think you have found a problem, share threat reports with department heads and executives. Follow up to ask them whether they’ve noticed similar issues with their computers. Otherwise, threats could continue operating for days or weeks without company-wide detection.

We hope that helped with your understanding of how to detect spyware on your system.  If you are interested in a cybersecurity checklist for small businesses or have questions regarding more advanced IT topics, please contact CPI Solutions.

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