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Spyware is Easy to Get and Scary to Be a Victim Of

Physical devices and software exists that cybercriminals can use to spy on you.

Many unsuspecting victims have fallen prey to cyberstalkers who use spyware to invade the privacy of their targets. A number of sophisticated and easy-to-get devices were even found on popular e-commerce websites, allowing anyone with an account to spy on a friend, significant other, family member, or stranger.

Read More: Scary Spyware Apps Found on Google Play

Here’s what you should know about spyware and how you can protect yourself from it.

They Exist as Both Hardware and Software
There are numerous types of spyware available, some of which are physical devices that look like USB flash drives. Cybercriminals have been using these devices to spy by placing them in a person’s home or on their property somehow. One woman said that a stalker put a USB in her purse when she wasn’t looking, allowing the criminal to listen to her conversations and blackmail her.

Hackers have also been able to spy on victims by installing spyware on devices without their knowledge. Criminals can then look at victims through their cameras, track their keystrokes, or go through their browsing history. Another person who fell prey to spyware was taking a shower and immediately afterward received a text from a criminal asking the victim if they had a nice shower.

It’s Easy to Purchase Spyware Devices
These USB listening devices have been sold on popular e-commerce websites such as Amazon and eBay, where you can pick one up for only $25. More sophisticated devices were higher in price, commanding as much as $400. The e-commerce sites were notified these devices were being sold and took down the listings but only after their existence was reported.

Until recently, there were also apps available in mobile app stores, designed to listen in on people’s conversations. One even marketed itself as a way to track your spouse’s phone anytime and from anywhere. The chances of these popping up on another online shopping site are highly likely if the demand increases.

How to Protect Yourself
If you’re afraid of getting spyware on your device or if you think it’s already been infected, download and install anti-spyware software, which can do routine check-ups. You should also be careful when surfing the web as spyware can come from infected or malicious websites and pop-ups. Make sure your phone is on the newest operating system and apply patches to apps or software installed on your computer.

Another smart move is to check your browser settings and ensure you’re viewing websites in a protected manner. Look for clues – a trustworthy site should be using the “https://” security key, for example.

While spyware can be scary, the best way to guard your privacy is by being aware of your surroundings and your devices.