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Riskware definition

Riskware is legitimate software that was never designed to be malicious but can be exploited or reused by hackers to wreak havoc on a computer and the whole network. It can slow down your connection and impact your device’s performance. Riskware can also be used to access, delete, copy, block, or modify your files and data.

How to spot riskware

  • Origin. Do you know how the software ended up on your device? If the answer is “no,” you should investigate further.
  • Permissions. Even if the software came pre-installed on your device, you should be able to control the permissions it has. Make sure none of the apps have unnecessary access to your device.
  • Removal. Can you easily delete it from your device, or does it pop right back up?
  • Updates. If the developer no longer supports the software, any vulnerabilities it may have won’t be fixed, and continuing to use it will be dangerous.

How to protect yourself from riskware

  • Download software from reputable sources and make sure to update it regularly.
  • Regularly check the software and files you store on your device. If they are outdated, acting strange, or you don’t remember downloading them, consider deleting them.
  • Follow news about the devices you use — sometimes, a new patch or an update accidentally opens up a loophole for cybercriminals to exploit. If you know about it, you can take actions to prevent it.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security