Protecting computers from spyware

Spyware is a common attack measure many cybercriminals use against companies and individuals. It is a type of malicious software (malware) that will gather information from your computer systems and networks without you knowing or without your approval. 

Spyware has the capability of capturing screenshots of information, keystrokes, passwords, email addresses, internet usage or browsing habits, and other sensitive and personal information. Spyware will often use keywords such as bank names and online payment systems to prompt the spyware to start gathering information.

Spyware can be installed on your computer through phishing emails and other scams. Cyber criminals will then use the information they gather for personal or financial gain.

Spyware risks

Spyware will consume your computer system’s resources and the overall bandwidth of your network. If your computer or network is infected with spyware, there may be serious performance problems with your system and applications, including data loss and more frequent system crashes.

Spyware comes in many different forms and may include ways for the spyware operator to hijack browser sessions to lead the user to invalid websites. They may also use social engineering methods or use cookies and bugs to gather important information and data.

Preventing spyware

  • Operating systems and applications may have inherent vulnerabilities in their programming that a cybercriminal will try to exploit through social engineering methods. So it is important to always be mindful of downloading anything from public web sites, opening email attachments, etc. 
  • Avoid opening any links in pop-up ads or emails from unknown senders. Don’t allow ActiveX controls or browser plug-ins. Be careful of simply answering “No” to any requests for a download as this may prompt the spyware to load anyway. 
  • Be careful with application or software installations where the license or privacy agreements may allow monitoring or allow the company to install additional software.
  • Maintain regular updates of your computer’s operating system and install patches when they are made available. 
  • Keep your antivirus and anti-spyware software updated as well. 

Additional information

Further information regarding Spyware can be found through the Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency: Microsoft Word - Spyware_Final_USCERTversion.doc (



This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you. The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.


LC 2022-228