How to detect spyware: 7 telltale signs

·3-min read

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Spyware can lead to your sensitive, private information being hacked. (Photo: Getty)
Spyware can lead to your sensitive, private information being hacked. (Photo: Getty)

Spyware is one of those eerie words in cybersecurity that you've probably heard about — and may be nervous about — but don't totally understand the ins and outs of how it works. But spyware is something that has the potential to affect everyone — and can lead to your sensitive, private data being hacked. That's why it's important to understand how to detect spyware. 

However, spyware can be difficult to get rid of on your own. That's why it's often a good idea to invest in powerful software like Norton Security Online — a leader in cybersecurity. A single Norton Security account can help protect up to five mobile devices from all kinds of cyber threats. Once you download it, the software helps hunt down and get rid of existing malware — including spyware. Norton Security Online also helps fend off future attack attempts in real time, shielding your personal and financial data, along with your assets. 

Shop it: Norton Security Online, 30-day free trial, then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

But that's not all you can do: Cybersecurity experts say there are a few potential hints that can indicate you may have spyware on your device. Here are the biggest tricks on how to detect spyware — so you can get rid of it and protect your precious personal information. 

First, what is spyware?

Spyware is a type of malicious software that monitors your behavior on a computer or device, and then collects and transmits that data, tech and cybersecurity expert Chuck Brooks, president of Brooks Consulting International, tells Yahoo Life. There are plenty of different forms of spyware out there, including software that's specially designed to hack into your device to help funnel out your personal information. 

You can accidentally pick up spyware when you download a free app, or even unintentionally install it when you click on a link on a website, Brooks says. 

You can accidentally pick up spyware when you download a free app, or even unintentionally install it when you click on a link on a website. (Photo: Getty)
You can accidentally pick up spyware when you download a free app, or even unintentionally install it when you click on a link on a website. (Photo: Getty)

How to detect spyware on your device

A "telltale sign" of spyware is when unusual things suddenly pop up on your computer, Tom Kelly, president and chief executive officer of consumer privacy platform IDX, tells Yahoo Life. "These can include random pop-up ads in your browser, new toolbars, unidentifiable or unfamiliar icons, random error messages, and even unexpectedly lower speeds when downloading or saving files," he says. 

Some types of malicious software can even delete or modify programs and files on your devices, Brooks says. "If that happens, you have spyware issues to immediately fix," he says. 

How to get rid of spyware

Suspecting you have spyware on your device and actually being able to remove it are two different things. If you really want to detect and get rid of spyware on your device, you'll want to download anti-malware software, suggests Kelly. This kind of software has "the sole purpose of scanning hard drives to detect and remove any threats," he points out. 

Brooks agrees. "Spyware is not easy to remove, as it often has hidden coding to resurrect itself," he says. "But it is important to do due diligence and read reviews to make sure you choose the best options and not a link to an offer that will download more spyware." That's also why choosing a reputable, known anti-malware software is so crucial. 

You don't want to sit on spyware if you suspect your device has been infected. "If worse comes to worse, you may have to reset your computer or device to its factory state and risk losing all your data that is not backed up," Brooks says. 

Shop it: Norton Security Online, 30-day free trial, then $4.99 a month, subscriptions.yahoo.com

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