Spyware or Viewer Software
Spyware and Viewer Software, many people tend to bundle them together under the term spyware. While you aren't completely wrong and they both pose an invasion of privacy, there is a difference between the two. It's scary to think either of these could be on your machine, and may or may not be being used for malicious intent, it is still not something anyone wants.
Spyware is a tricky thing. Most of the time people are completely unaware it is even on their machines. So what is spyware, where does it come from, and what is it used for?
In simple terms, it is any software that installs itself on your machine without your knowledge. This can be a variety of things such as Advanced Keyloggers, CoolWebSearch and more. Advanced Keyloggers track your keys movements and takes screenshots while CoolWebSearch tracks your web use.
There are four main types of Spyware: Adware, System Monitoring, Web Tracking, and Trojans. Typically Spyware and Adware are bundled together when installed on your machine. While you aren't intentionally installing spyware onto your machine, it can come from a link shared via email, an ad or a pop-up window. Typically it's something you think is real and would be beneficial to check out. Now lets dive into what spyware is actually used for. Spyware is used to gather data about your while monitoring your computer usage, what programs you have installed, and what you look at on the web. As data is continually collected, they send this information to third-parties. Talk about invasion of privacy.
So what is Viewer Software? While these aren't always used for malicious reasons, if you don't know about them, what they are, or who your giving access to, that's when it can easily turn into a malicious act. Viewer Software is a program downloaded onto your machine allowing someone else remote access. There are different versions each used to do the same thing. The main ones we see are, AnyDesk, UltraViewer, TeamViewer. Don't be fooled, there are many others.
While many IT companies might use a viewer software to remotely help you, those companies will never reach out first to access your machine. Typically when these are installed it's because you called an IT Support number from a pop up posing as Windows Defender, Norton, McAfee, or some other legit company. Phishing is an easy way to catch your attention, such as stating you're going to be charged a certain amount, you have a virus, or that your subscription is going to automatically renew. They will use big name companies you are familiar with and possibly even utilize to catch your attention.
Once you call the number provided with the scam email or popup, you will reach a "customer support" person who will then instruct you to download any of the viewer software's and grant them access to your machine. Once they are in, they can cause a lot of damage, they know where to find passwords stored online, they can access your online banking, and so much more! They will use scare tactics and they have full control of your machine. These people can dim the lighting on your screen so you can't see what they or doing, or they will do things that look like they are "helping" you while they look and find the information they are after. These people move quick and even after you catch on and hang up the phone, they are still on your machine.
If you notice things seem off, they start asking questions that are irrelevant to why you originally called, or they outright start insisting you provide certain information, immediately hang up, and disconnect your computer from internet. The easiest way it to shut your machine down. So what are the steps moving forward, if this does happen, contact your bank and let them know the situation, then go to your local computer repair and get a general cleanup done.
General Cleanups will not only remove the viewer software they are using but it will also detect trojans, adware and any other spyware or any other items that should not be on your machine. Our team typically recommends a general cleanup be done every year or depending on the frequency of your use every six months.