What is Spyware? The 10 Examples of Spyware You Need to Know

Explore its examples and risks of this malicious software!

You would have come across news about spyware attacks and requesting us to be careful.

Are you unaware of what is spyware?

In today’s guide, you will get to know about spyware and its examples.

So, hang on till the end of the doc and get to know if you are the next in the line for a spyware attack.

What is Spyware? The 10 Examples of Spyware You Need to Know

What is Spyware and its Examples?

Spyware is malicious software that enables hackers to obtain covert information about another’s computer activities by transmitting data directly from their hard drives.

It records any personal information, including search and browsing histories, login credentials, and even credit card details.

Later, the stolen data can be used for identity theft and fraud, targeted advertising and scams, espionage, and corporate secrets theft.

Along with the advancement of AI in cybersecurity, some spyware programs have disappeared, and other more advanced threatening programs have emerged.

We have gathered some most common examples of spyware below:

1. CoolWebSearch (CWS)

A common spyware example that installs itself on running Microsoft computers is called CWS.

This virus program exploits Internet Explorer (IE) vulnerabilities and hijacks a user’s web search, IE settings, and other homepage activities.

2. Gator (GAIN)

The next one is Gator, a type of Adware that displays or downloads advertising automatically onto the user’s computer.

This spyware is bundled with other free software programs and pirated applications that can harm your device, targeting a system with personalized ads.

Gator also monitors the victim’s web surfing habits and uses that information to serve them with better-targeted advertisements.

Also Read: What is a Botnet Attack?

3. Advanced Keylogger

Another example of spyware is Advanced Keylogger which targets your computer memory to function while remaining visible.

This spyware is known to monitor keystrokes and take screenshots, helping hackers keep track of the activities of a keyboard.

Keylogger spyware

4. Internet Optimizer

Internet Optimizer is an adware and spyware program that redirects Internet Explorer error pages to advertising pages.

Internet Optimizer is initially downloaded to optimize the internet performance of a PC, but it leads to an internet page full of ads.

5. FinSpy (aka FinFisher)

FinSpy is one of the classic examples of Spyware used to infiltrate Windows, Android, Linux, macOS, and iOS devices.

Depending upon the platform, FinSpy is used by law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and threat actors to switch on cameras, modify files, record and transmit images, and a lot more.

6. TIBS Dialer

TIBS Dialer is a type of spyware that accesses pornographic websites, connects to different toll numbers, and disconnects the user’s computer from local phone lines.

It also installs on your PC through email attachments on spam or the internet.

However, this spyware does not affect your PC but leaves you with an enormous telephone bill at the end of its run-on pornographic websites.

7. GO Keyboard

Even though GO Keyboard is known as a legitimate mobile application, once installed on Android, it shares personal information with its remote servers without consent from users.

GO Keyboard shares information like Android OS version, Google account email address, device model and screen size, network types, location, preferred language, and social media interactions.

This spyware works by executing code from a remote server to breach Google Play privacy policies.

Also Read: What is Malware and What Does it Do?

8. Zlob

Zlob is one of the severe kinds of spyware that infects the Windows operating system on your PC.

Also known as Zlob Trojan, this spyware can infect a user’s computer by pretending to be a fake video codec in the form of Active X.

Zlob works by using vulnerabilities in the Active X codec to download itself to a computer and record search and browsing histories along with keystrokes.

9. HawkEye

HawkEye is a dangerous and infamous trojan and keylogger that infects machines to track key logs and other inputs.

Even though this spyware is designed to steal information from infected devices, it can also be used as a loader.

10. Look2Me

Look2Me is a fake social alert and engineering attack that tries to trick users into installing a malicious program or subscribing to unneeded paid services.

This spyware also tracks users’ primary information, like their behavior, social media interactions, and website logs, and shares it with a remote server.

This stored information is then further used by hackers to show intrusive advertisements.

Types of Spyware

Let us discuss different types of spyware that can be broadly categorized into five:

1. Keyloggers

Keyloggers are software programs that are also known as system monitors.

This type of spyware records the keystrokes typed on a keyboard by the user connected to an infected Windows computer.

Keyloggers are known to record your computer activity, including search history, email activity, websites accessed, chat room communications, system credentials, and more.

Some keyloggers can also collect information or documents that are going through printers.

2. Infostealers

The next category is Infostealers which provide third parties with sensitive information from an infected computer, including usernames, passwords, email addresses, browser history, log files, system information, documents, spreadsheets, media files, and more.

Infostealers store the data collected on a remote server or locally for later retrieval.

Injection scripts can be used by Infostealers to add extra fields to web forms.

3. Password Stealers

Another spyware type is Password Stealers, which, as the name suggests, steal login credentials from devices that are infected.

Password stealers attach themselves to the browser to extract saved usernames and passwords.

Password Stealers

Also Read: How to Tell If Your iPhone Has a Virus

4. Banking Trojans

The next category in the types of spyware is Banking Trojans which are extremely dangerous as they can access and record your sensitive information stored or processed through online banking systems.

Banking trojans use browser security to get credentials from financial institutions, modify transaction content or web pages, or insert additional transactions.

The institutions that may fall prey to banking trojans include online financial portals, banks, brokerages, and digital mobile wallets.

5. Modem Hijackers

Modem Hijackers attack users when they browse the internet.

It appears as a pop-up window that prompts the user to click on it and then gets silently downloaded to take control of their dial-up modem.

Modem hijackers work by disconnecting the phone line from the current local connection instead of connecting to an international one.

What is the Most Common Type of Spyware?

Adware is the most common type of spyware that attacks your PC by causing pop-up advertising.

Adware works by stealing information stored on your PC and sending it without your permission while accessing any infected site.

Also Read: 4 Ways to Remove Congratulations You Won Virus on Android

History of Spyware

The term spyware has evolved throughout history, transitioning from physical tools to complex digital software.

  • The term spyware appeared online for the first time in 1995, initially referring to software meant for espionage purposes.
  • Adware emerges, collecting user data for targeted advertising in the late 1990s.
  • In 2000, the term spyware got its modern and new meaning, referring to software that secretly collects user information without their knowledge or consent.
  • In the mid-2000s, anti-spyware software emerges to combat the growing threat.
  • Spyware became more sophisticated, incorporating keylogging, rootkit techniques, and remote access capabilities in the 2010s.
  • Now, spyware continues to evolve, targeting mobile devices, smart TVs, and other internet-connected devices. Advanced forms like Pegasus software showcase the potential for state-sponsored cyber espionage.


What Devices Can be Infected by Spyware?

Spyware can be installed on computers in a variety of ways, such as clicking on malicious links, opening infected attachments, or downloading pirated software.

Spyware is becoming increasingly common on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets through various ways, such as downloading malicious apps, clicking on phishing links, or connecting to infected Wi-Fi networks.

Also, spyware can be installed on smart TVs by connecting to infected Wi-Fi networks.

Other devices, such as gaming consoles, routers, and even internet-connected refrigerators, can also be infected by spyware.

If you find that your device is infected, we recommend you remove spyware you’re your device.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Does spyware work without the Internet?

Ans. No, most spyware requires an internet connection to send the data it collects. But, it can still function to some extent without it

Q2. Are all types of spyware malicious?

Ans. It depends. Because parental control apps, data analytics tools, and employer monitoring software are also spyware. Non-malicious spyware can have privacy implications, so it’s important to be aware of what information is being collected and how it’s being used

Q3. Who is most under threat from spyware?

Ans. The vulnerability depends on profession, activities, or personal characteristics. For example, journalists, activists, business executives, high-profile people, and individuals with no security suite.

Q4. Is spyware a virus?

Ans. No, spyware is not a virus. Virus can damage your device or data and stealing data is not their primary goal.

Q5. Are tracking cookies spyware?

Ans. No. Usually, tracking cookies collect browsing behavior, demographics, and interests, but not sensitive information like passwords or financial data.

Q6. Can spyware be detected?

Ans. Yes, detecting spyware is difficult but it is not impossible to do so.

Also Read: How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

This brings us to the end of our guide on examples of spyware.

If you have some other queries, please ask them by leaving your comments below.

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