Your Computer May have Stalkerware

Are You Infected?

Last week we talked about how you can tell if your computer has a virus.  Of course, most viruses aren’t actually viruses.  They’re malware, ransomware, spyware, and other wares.  But there’s another bit of coding that you need to watch out for.  You want to make sure that you aren’t infected with stalkerware.

How to avoid stalkerware

We have heard of it before.  In fact, we wrote about how to avoid some of it in the past (a small portion is remotely controlling your webcam) But there are actual programs out there that will allow people to see what you’re doing on your computer.  In real time.  Down to the keystroke.  Here’s what you need to know to get rid of, and avoid, stalkerware.

Installation on your Device

The good news: most stalkerware has to be directly installed.  Unlike viruses and the like, you can rarely get this bug from accessing bad sites and clicking the wrong link.  But that’s not to say it doesn’t happen!  If you suspect stalkerware, first think if anyone has had access to your computer or device.  Would they be able to install this software and set it in motion?

It’s a good idea to have passcodes on your phones and computers.  Especially if there is any sensitive data on either of them.  Plus, don’t click those links you get in emails, even if they look legit, navigate to the site and access it “the old fashioned way.”

Computer is “Acting Funny”

Just like when you suspect you have a virus, the stalkerware will slow down your computer.  It’s running in the background, monitoring your activity, and sending the data to whoever has access.  That takes up a lot of memory.  If you notice the computer acting funny, it’s either getting to the end of its lifecycle (old computers slow down), or it’s infected.

Check Your Apps

New bugs aren’t caught right away by anti-viruses.  And since stalkerware is often a legitimate program, it sometimes won’t show up.  You can check to see if your computer is running “extra” programs.  For Windows users, right click the taskbar and select “Task Manager”; for Mac users, search “Activity Monitor” from Spotlight.

Are those programs legit?  Don’t go closing things without a little online research, many programs have funny names, but are essential for running the computer.

Disable Your Webcam

Putting tape over the camera is one thing, but that’s not a fool-proof method.  If someone has access, they will still have access even if they can’t see anything.  Instead, search “Settings” and select “Privacy”.  Then turn off any apps that have permission to use the camera that you don’t want to have permission to use the camera.

Turn your webcam off

If you use a Mac, a program called Oversight will inform you when your camera or microphone is being accessed.

Email and Social Media Snooping

One big way that people are “stalked” is through their accounts.  No programs need to be installed, just access.  For instance, you shared a Facebook with your ex, and you both knew the password.  You used that same password for your email, and now your ex can access your email without you realizing it.  Fortunately, both Facebook and Gmail have methods to alert you when there is unauthorized use.

Gmail has 2-step verification methods in place, learn how to turn them on.  In addition, you can review the device access log to see if there was unusual activity on your account.

Update gmail security

Facebook also has a 2-step verification method.  And they also let you see if there was any unusual login activity.  You can check on both of them here.

Update Facebook Security

Bring Infected Devices to iDoctor for Cleanup

So you think that you’re infected, or you know that you’re infected, but you can’t get the device cleaned up.  No worries, that’s why we are here!  have you bigger things to worry about, so let us take care of your tech needs.  We offer virus, malware, ransomware, stalkerware, and other ware removal here in Billings.  Come to either our West End Store or our Heights Store and let our friendly technician fix you up.