Where does spyware operate on a PC?

  Laurence WM 12:44 10 Dec 2015
Locked

I have some questions concerning spyware. They might sound stupid and over-cautious to those in the know, but answers to any of them would be really appreciated, thanks.

How likely is spyware to come from just visiting a dodgy site, without downloading anything from it?

How likely is it to do anything worse than produce pop-up ads?

If it is acquired on one browser (eg Firefox), will it only spy subsequent activity on that browser? Or might it also spy on other browsers I use?

Will it spy on anything already on the PC, on past activity on that browser, or only on subsequent activity?

Could it spy on non-internet files, eg Microsoft Word?

Would uninstalling the browser remove the spyware?

Then could I reinstall it safely?

Would saving file on to an external drive carry the spyware with it?

Would returning the PC to factory default sort out remove the spyware?

How likely is it that a good security package would deal with the problem?

Thanks a lot, Laurence

  hastelloy 14:16 10 Dec 2015

How likely is spyware to come from just visiting a dodgy site, without downloading anything from it? Very likely

How likely is it to do anything worse than produce pop-up ads? Very likely

If it is acquired on one browser (eg Firefox), will it only spy subsequent activity on that browser? Or might it also spy on other browsers I use? Will affect everything on your PC

Will it spy on anything already on the PC, on past activity on that browser, or only on subsequent activity? Everything

Could it spy on non-internet files, eg Microsoft Word? Yes

Would uninstalling the browser remove the spyware? No

Then could I reinstall it safely? N/A

Would saving file on to an external drive carry the spyware with it? Possibly

Would returning the PC to factory default sort out remove the spyware? Possibly

How likely is it that a good security package would deal with the problem? Very Likely

But wait for further replies for confirmation.

  Gordon Freeman 14:36 10 Dec 2015

Regardless of what the answers to your various questions might be (& in the main I'd go along with hastelloy anyway) it's important, certainly for some peace of mind, to get a good anti-malware/anti-spyware program on your machine.

Plus they can really save you a lot of grief in the event your machine becomes infected & you then have to deal with it.

There's really no excuse for not having any protection to be honest, as there are some very effective free ones; Malware Bytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) is one which is highly recommended on this forum.

click here

  Laurence WM 10:22 11 Dec 2015

Many thanks for these helpful replies, hastellboy and Gordon. Generally bad news, then, apart from the ability of security packages to deal with the problem. I do have the free version of Malware Bytes.

Anyone else got any opinions, to confirm or dispute hastellboy's answers?

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 11:30 11 Dec 2015

Confirmed

You need decent protection, most antivirus programs also have built in antimalware but its good to have "layered" protection as not everything can be caught by one program.

  1. Have a good Antivirus program ith built in Antimalware (Avast or Avira free - Kapersky paid for).
  2. Make sure you have your routers hardware firewall on and a software fire wall that works on both incoming and outgoing data windows own firewall is Ok in all versions of windows after XP (XP needs a third party firewall installed).
  3. Use a blocker such as SpyBlaster that will block certain sites
  4. Use an ad blocker on your browsers - Adblock pro and Ghostery are excellent and free
  5. Have a second antimalware program to check nothing has slipped through - Malwarebytes (Mbam) - superantispyware (SAS) both free.
  6. Make sure your email is also protected do not open links in emails if you are not absolutely sure where they originate from.

Common sense is your main defence

  1. don't go on dodgy sites offering too good to be true offers
  2. never pass on your bank details or passwords or pin numbers to anyone - you bank will never email you for this info
  3. don't click on links in emails
  4. If doing transactions (shopping) online look for the https in the address bar before proceeding with payment
  Laurence WM 12:26 11 Dec 2015

Excellent advice, Fruitbat, many thanks.

The only time I suspect I have visited dodgy sites - just for a few seconds - is by getting urls slightly wrong - yootube etc. I don't know quite how dangerous such sites are.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 12:30 11 Dec 2015

if you have decent protection as suggested above the site would be blocked or the threats on the site would be blocked so no problem.

Flash player is a real security problem and should be uninstalled to prevent malware and other nasties being installed or run on your machine through its gaping security holes.

  hastelloy 13:18 11 Dec 2015

Excellent advice from Fruit Bat /\0/\ as always.

I would add that, when shopping online with a company I don't know, I always look for an address and telephone number.

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