Your antivirus is built to detect viruses (malicious programs that could harm your system). However, an antivirus tool will also flag adware and riskware hidden inside apps as causes for concern. It labels these threats as “not-a-virus”.
No, but riskware and adware can be used to cause the same damage a virus can. (Here are some of the worst computer viruses).
Riskware and adware have potential to be harmful and can pose huge risks to our privacy, here’s how:
Riskware describes certain apps that could damage your device if installed.
Riskware can be embedded into legitimate apps, which, if in the hands of malicious users, can be used to block, delete, modify, and copy data or disrupt the performance of your device.
Adware is responsible for those annoying pop-up ads you get when you’re using the app. If clicked on, some of these ads can install viruses and malware onto your device. Here’s how to remove adware from your phone.
Even legitimate apps can carry adware that tracks your behavior so the owners can sell it to advertisers to make money. It's near impossible to tell which parts of your data are being sold — it could be your name, date of birth, how often you use the app, etc.
1. Remote admin apps
Remote admin applications are often hiding in malware packages. If you know you’ve downloaded a remote admin app, that’s great. But if you didn’t, it’ll be flagged as “not-a-virus”.
2. Download managers
Download managers can be sneaky devils. Some have been known to download extra files while showing a grey notification using a grey font in order to trick you into giving your consent. That’s why your download manager might be flagged by your antivirus as riskware, and thereby “not-a-virus”.
3. Browser toolbars
Some browser toolbars support adware as part of their features, which might be flagged as “not-a-virus” (riskware) by your antivirus software.
4. Bitcoin miners
Miner apps leech off your device's computing power to mine Bitcoins, using your device as part of a swarming botnet. Mining apps will slow down and disrupt your device, and could have been installed without your consent as part of a malware package.
Antivirus software will only inform you of a potential threat with a “not-a-virus” warning. It won’t block or delete riskware, as it can be a functional aspect of some apps.
Here’s how to stay vigilant: