It may not just be the cybercriminals accessing your computer
If you thought you were pretty clever knowing that spyware refers to pieces of malicious code put on computers in order for cybercriminals to steal your passwords and other IDs, think again.
These days it has a much more literal sense, at least if the latest documents leaked by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden to the Der Spiegel newspaper are to be believed.
The documents allege that spies are regularly using tools more usually associated with cybercriminals.
It is alleged UK spy agency GCHQ operatives created fake web pages that injected malware into the computers of engineers running one of Belgium’s largest telecommunications companies in order to be able to access its systems.
“We have to realise that a number of GCHQ staff are indeed hackers, but licensed by the state and protected by the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and ministerial warrant,” said digital forensic expert Prof Peter Sommer.
“They will deploy every type of hacker trick to achieve their aims.”
It is a view endorsed by Dwayne Melancon, chief technology officer of security firm Tripwire and a man used to looking at malicious code as part of his daily job.
“It seems you can’t throw a rock these days without hitting a nation state surveillance operation,” he said.