When we’re growing up, we’re typically taught about right and wrong – about good and bad. We’re presented with life as being something divided into polar opposites. But what about that muddy area in between? That grey area? Morally questionable ideas or content, granted, but not necessarily illegal. The thing is, the world of cybercrime isn’t exempt from having such ambiguous areas, and that comes in the form of grayware. The team here at Nutbourne offers cybersecurity solutions as part of its role as a London managed service provider. We wanted to look at this area in a bit more detail.
What Is It?
Grayware (not to be confused with greyware which is a type of pottery…) refers to unwanted files and applications that, though not explicitly classed as malware, will more often than not affect a device’s overall performance whilst also introducing new security risks/worsening existing problems. These applications toe the line between what’s legal and what’s not, and such fine margins mean it can be difficult for cybersecurity agencies to necessarily do too much about them. They’re nuisances, but they’re often much more damaging than that, too.
In 2018, Symantec (now known as NortonLifeLock) found in their report that grayware had increased by one-fifth on the previous year. That very same report found that over 60% of grayware applications found on mobile devices leaked the user’s phone number. What, though are the different types of grayware?
Broadly speaking, there are three types of grayware. These are as follows:
- Spyware. This form of grayware focuses on monitoring your online behaviour, recording it and then selling it onto third parties, typically for advertising and marketing purposes. Worryingly, spyware can track everything from usernames through to credit card details. It gets its name from the fact that it tends to run discreetly in the background without you ever knowing it’s present on your device.
- Adware. The less subtle form of grayware is adware which most commonly takes the form of pop-up ads appearing when you open your browser; these applications, like spyware, collate data and information pertaining to the user to then either use directly in advertising or sell to interested third parties.
- Madware. As mobile devices have become more and more commonplace, so too has madware (mobile adware). Such files can (as mentioned) leak user phone numbers and other personal details, as well as being obtrusive, irritating and having an impact on your mobile’s overall performance.
The Dangers Of Grayware
Asides from being downright irritating to the user, grayware can cause more serious issues, too. Questions of privacy left to one side for a moment, grayware can act as a conduit or gateway through which more malicious software can take root. In essence, these irritating applications increase the ‘surface area’, if you like, over which your computer can be attacked; most likely developed without using best practices, grayware leaves you much more exposed. It shows cybercriminals a great big “we’re an easy target!” sign, whether you realise it or not.
How To Get Rid Of Grayware
As always with matters cybersecurity-related, prevention is better than cure. That said, if you do find that grayware applications are present on your devices, you can still get rid of them – here are some ways how:
- Carry out a malware scan using any reputable anti-virus software providers.
- Go to your control panel and check for any odd or suspicious-looking applications found under the Programmes and features section. You can then easily uninstall it. Note, though, if you’re unsure as to whether something is meant to be there or not, do some research prior to uninstalling.
- Call a trusted managed service provider or cybersecurity solutions provider. Tampering or removing files, or searching in parts of your computer you’ve not delved into before, can be a bit of a minefield. If ever you’re unsure, the easiest thing you can do is find help over the phone or online!
So, if you’d like to find out more about the cybersecurity solutions we offer as a managed service provider in London, then get in touch! Contact Nutbourne today on +44 (0) 203 137 7273 or by filling out one of our online contact forms. Alternatively, you can make use of our handy ChatBot! However you choose to get in touch, we’ll aim to get back to you as quickly as we can – hopefully within 48 hours.