Top Security Threats from Spyware

How Spyware Puts You and Your Clients At Risk

As a consultant, you are privy to sensitive client data, including finances, proprietary information and trade secrets. It may be stored on your business computer, along with information, passwords and account numbers from your own business. And that makes you vulnerable to security risks, such as identify theft. Using spyware, cyber thieves are watching your every move, and are ready to steal valuable data from your computer. Spyware poses a severe threat to your consulting business. Here are just six ways you can be compromised:

Nuisance

Young woman on computer. PeopleImages

Perhaps the least destructive type of spyware is the one that allows adware to be displayed on your computer screen. It may take up valuable memory, slow your connection or  reset your home page to another site, but those intrusions usually amount to no more than petty annoyances. However, they can make it difficult for you to complete an assignment on deadline, and that can cost your clients and money. This type of software also may open the door to a malicious version of spyware that can inflict significant damage. 

Tracking

Many spyware programs are designed specifically to monitor and record your behaviors, such as track websites you visit online, or monitor your use of other web-based programs. Again, the threat level is low, unless the program uses the information to also record data you are providing to the other sites.

Redirecting URLs

Some spyware programs can redirect your computer to a particular website, regardless of the URL or website address you typed on your keyboard. Redirecting a URL can produce immense profits for cyber crooks. That's because businesses often pay money for every visitor a third party directs to their sites. Spyware also can redirect you to sites that load even more dangerous programs onto your computer. So what starts as a low-level risk quickly escalates by loading more intrusive programs onto your system.

Shutting Down Systems

Spyware that poses high-risk threats can completely shut down your computer, or permanently erase or damage your files. Valuable client files or financial records could be destroyed in a blink of an eye. Regularly backing up files to an external hard drive can mitigate the risk. 

Acting as a Controlling Server

Another high-risk event occurs when spyware uses your computer as a server. The spyware embeds itself in your computer and then acts as a remote server to distribute other harmful programs or images, without your permission. Suddenly, your computer is the vehicle for delivering malicious programs to a wide audience of victims which may include your clients.

Identity Theft

One of the most pernicious forms of spyware can log your keystrokes. In other words, as you type in passwords and credit card account numbers, your data is sent back to the spyware's originator, and the cyber thief can then wreak financial havoc on you personally, your company and your clients.