What is spyware?
Spyware is kind of like a computer virus, except instead of messing up your hard drive, it enables strangers to snoop on you. Skilled hackers can install spyware on your phone without you even realizing it.
Once spyware is on your phone, it can record everything you do, from sending text messages to shooting video of your family reunion. Hackers may use it to break into your private accounts, commandeer your email and even blackmail you.
Some parents install a kind of spyware on their kids’ smartphones in order to keep track of their activities. Managers sometimes keep tabs on their employees by watching what they do on their company computers.
But, there are much healthier ways of watching kids and employees — but this kind of spyware is not intended to ruin your life.
The easiest way to avoid downloading spyware is this:
-Do not click on strange links.
-If you receive an email from a suspicious stranger, don’t open it.
-If you receive an email or text from someone you do know, but the message seems peculiar, contact your friend by phone or social media to see if the message was intended.
Lock your phone
Though some phones are more susceptible to spyware than others (more on this later), owners can dramatically reduce their chances of infection by locking them. A simple PIN number will deter most hackers.
Androids and spyware
Android phones are particularly vulnerable to spyware. It is simple to install a spying app on any Android gadget, but only once you get past the lock screen.
To protect yourself, make sure you have the lock screen turned on and that no one knows your PIN, password or pattern. You can make it even harder by blocking the installation of third-party apps. To do this, go to Settings >> Security and uncheck the Unknown Sources option. It won’t stop a really knowledgeable snoop, but it could stump less-savvy ones.
iPhones and spyware
Apple users can get pretty smarmy about their products. If you own an iPhone, you probably already know that your phone is far safer from malware than Android gadgets. A recent “Forbes” study showed that nearly 97 percent of all known malware threats affect only Android devices.
At the moment, Windows Phone 8 and Windows Mobile 10 seem to be fairly well protected against mainstream spyware apps.