What is Grayware?

In today’s age, many daily activities are performed on the internet and it has become an indispensable part of our lives. For many industries, the key tasks for doing business are done online like communication, entertainment, marketing, and others. This results in a large amount of information and data being shared all over the internet and raises the concern of a higher risk for the security of the data. 

However, with the greater popularity of the Internet comes greater risks, which unfortunately results in many online scams and the spread of viruses that can cause very harmful consequences for us. That is why it is very important to be informed and up to date with all the threats on the internet that we have to deal with. Keep reading and learn more about Grayware, which you probably didn’t know, and get prepared to avoid it before it’s too late.

What do you mean by Grayware?

Grayware is software (code) that is between regular software and a virus and belongs to a gray area. Malicious shareware like trackware and spyware fall under this category.

Even though grayware is not regarded as a malicious virus it can be annoying to deal with and very harmful to our desktop computer or mobile phone performance. Grayware is commonly referred to as potentially unwanted programs or PUPs. Those are all the applications that perform activities that can slow down the user’s devices. Most common grayware exists for advertising or adware and spyware which tracks and records the user information and behavior.

The grayware we come across most often on the internet are:

  • Adware – is an undesirable software program designed to throw classified ads up on your screen, most usually inside an internet browser which is a classic example of Malicius advertising. Adware generates sales for its developer via means of mechanically showing online classified ads within the person’s interface of the software program or on a display that pops up within the person’s face all through the setup process.
  • Spyware – another malicious software that can enter your device is spyware. Spyware collects the user’s data that can be used for generating profit from stolen information and forwards it to a third party without the user’s permission.

When you download spyware and adware they interact with each other. The spyware program tracks your behavior and gathers data which is used by the adware for creating the display ads customized on the basis of the gathered information.

These kinds of software are hidden all around the internet: emails, pop-up texts, and other software which doesn’t have to be harmful to the computer but comes in bundles with the other malicious software.

Grayware could be harmful to the user’s device if it finds its way into the system. An infected computer makes a perfect ground for many threats varying from slight inconveniences to serious harm to the system and the user: decrease in computer performance and overall speed of the device, manipulation of the user’s browsing experience, and even theft of personal data like the user’s identity.

A few years ago grayware developers created harmful software mainly for desktop computers, however today the main target is smartphones which use is much more widespread. Tablets and smartphones are at higher risk of picking up grayware due to the fact that users download apps all the time with no concern about the app’s ability to access the user’s information and data.

Madware (mobile adware)

There also exists a special type of grayware that targets mobile devices and can be especially harmful to the user. These kinds of software commonly can be found on the free application and after the user downloads these apps, the madware, depending on the type can:

  • Replace the smartphone’s tone for dialing with an audio ad;
  • Send a large number of ads via text messages;
  • Record the user’s location and even the device’s phone number;
  • Create shortcuts or icons on the device desktop.

How can you protect yourself against grayware?

  • Always make sure your system on the device you are using is updated;
  • Do not open unsolicited e-mail;
  • Be careful when downloading an app and pay attention to the permissions the app is needing when installing is in progress;
  • Make sure you have the latest security software on your computer, tablet or smartphone;
  • Use only trusted websites when downloading apps.
  • Be sure that the apps you are downloading do not contain additional files.

To recap

It is very important to know how to protect yourself from the dangers of grayware and other viruses that are on the Internet and that can threaten your online security and the availability of your personal data and information.

Therefore, follow the steps above and the proven instructions of experts so that you can safely surf the Internet and ensure the smooth running of your devices.

GeoEdge is the trusted cyber security and ad quality partner for publishers and platforms in the digital advertising industry. With more than a decade of experience, we’ve built solutions to prevent tomorrow’s threats, today.‎

Malvertising, the practice of sprinkling malicious code into legitimate-looking ads is growing more sophisticated. GeoEdge’s holistic ad quality solution has you covered.


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