What is a grayware virus?
Grayware is a term used to describe a category of unwanted software that falls in between legitimate, harmless software and malicious software (malware). Grayware refers to applications or programs that may not be inherently harmful like viruses or malware, but they often engage in undesirable or disruptive behaviors without the user’s consent or knowledge.
What is an example of grayware?
Common types of grayware include:
- Adware that displays unwanted ads to users, often in an intrusive or aggressive manner, and may collect information about a user’s online behavior for targeted advertising.
- Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) that are often bundled with legitimate software but may have unwanted features, such as changing browser settings, collecting data, or displaying ads.
- Spyware that gathers data about user activities, typically without their knowledge or consent, and may transmit that data to a third party for marketing or other purposes. It can also steal private information.
- Madware is an abbreviation for mobile adware. Madware potentially spreads malicious ads that can infect your mobile device. Mobile adware can make mobile devices work more slowly.
- Browser hijackers can secretly modify your browser settings and redirect you to websites you don’t intend to visit.
- Unwanted toolbars may not necessarily be malicious but can clutter your browser and direct you to malicious websites.
What is the difference between malware and grayware?
Malware is malicious software that is illegitimate and dangerous. Its main intention is to cause harm to the target, for example, to steal data or to compromise the system.
On the contrary, grayware is not necessarily malicious — it may be conventional legitimate software that has some unwanted additions piggybacking on it or includes a type of malware that causes some minor dysfunctions (e.g., pop-ups, slowness) rather than major damage.
Of course, there is no clear formal distinction between these two groups. For example, potentially unwanted applications, adware, or spyware can belong to both groups. Both grayware and malware have many overlapping features, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
How do I get rid of a grayware virus?
Removing grayware from your device typically involves identifying and uninstalling applications that include it. Here are a few tips on how to remove grayware from your devices to reduce security risks:
- Review the list of installed applications or programs on your devices to identify any software that you suspect may be grayware. Look for applications you don’t remember installing or that have a dubious reputation and remove them immediately. You can usually uninstall these applications by clicking on the remove button in the application itself, in the settings, or in the control panel section of your operating system.
- Grayware can also come in the form of browser extensions or add-ons. Review your web browser’s extensions or add-ons and remove those that seem suspicious or that you don’t want anymore.
- Use reputable antivirus, anti-malware or other internet security software to scan your device for grayware. These tools can often detect and remove grayware effectively.
- Ensure that your operating system, browsers, and other software are up-to-date. Updates often include security patches that can help prevent grayware from entering your device.
- Be mindful of what you download and install on your devices. Only download software from trusted sources and app stores, and avoid downloading applications from suspicious websites or pop-up ads.
- Configure your device’s security settings to block potentially harmful or unwanted software. The procedure may differ depending on the platform and device you’re using.
- Periodically review the list of installed applications and browser extensions on your device to ensure no new grayware has been installed without your knowledge.
- Remember that the specific steps to remove grayware may vary depending on the type of device and operating system you are using. Always exercise caution when installing new software, and keep your device’s security features up to date to help prevent grayware from affecting your system.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the topic.
What are the symptoms of grayware?
Symptoms of grayware include:
- Programs or applications appearing that you don’t recognize or remember installing.
- Your system has slowed down.
- Your browser has become cluttered with unwanted bookmarks or pop-ups.
- You have noticed unwanted redirects to websites.
What are the three symptoms of spyware?
The three main warning signs of spyware are:
- Slow computer performance.
- Unwanted and annoying pop-ups.
- Spyware changing settings in your computer or mobile device without your knowledge.
Is it “greyware” or “grayware”?
“Grey” is the UK spelling of “gray,” so you can use both terms. However, “grayware” is more widely used. Also, “grayware” has another meaning in pottery — it is a type of pottery made of a gray paste.