What is grayware?

So-called grayware (US) or grayware (British) lies between software that can be clearly defined as harmful and illegal malware and functional and legally distributed apps. Not only does its ambivalent character ensure this classification, but also the subjective opinion in individual cases is often decisive for whether and how this software is classified. In the following you get a definition of what grayware is, as well as examples and further information on the topic.

What is Grayware / Greyware? What types of apps belong to this type of annoying and semi-legal software? And how does it get on the computer? You can find answers to these and other questions here!
What is Grayware / Greyware? What types of apps belong to this type of annoying and semi-legal software? And how does it get on the computer? You can find answers to these and other questions here!

What is the definition of Greyware?

Greyware or Grayware denotes unwanted programs (Potentially Unwanted Programs or Potentially Unwanted Applications), which are not directly labeled as harmful malware, but can slow down the system and pose a security risk. The software does not cause any direct damage and is therefore not illegal per se. However, it provides a negative user experience and may have been installed without the user's action or consent. So it operates in a (legal) gray area, to which its name refers. 

Which programs belong to grayware?

With the above definition in mind, different types of annoying software can be classified as greyware or grayware. Here in the Sir Apfelot Blog we have already presented these examples to you:

In German Wikipedia entry On the subject of "malicious program" there are a few more specific subcategories of greyware. For one, become Dialer called, with which you could previously dial into the analog fixed network or the ISDN network. On the other hand Govware called that despite Trojans- and Worm-Properties as well spyware-Functions is not classified as malware only because it is used by official bodies (customs, secret service, etc.).

How does grayware get on the device?

Grayware can get onto computers, smartphones, and other devices in a variety of ways. A common method is software bundling, which involves installing grayware together with other programs that were downloaded intentionally. That's why we advise against software portalsthat use unnecessary installers as an intermediate stage of the actual installation. Oftentimes, users are not sufficiently informed about the included additional programs, and the installation happens unintentionally. 

Another common method is clicking deceptive ads or opening email attachments that may contain grayware or download via Trojan horses. In the form of bloatware, grayware also comes pre-installed on the (newly purchased) device. Manufacturers, network operators or shops can be responsible for the additional software. By exploiting vulnerabilities (Feat) greyware can also be smuggled in, similar to malware.

How to detect and remove greyware?

As already mentioned, greyware can be software that is only subjectively perceived as such. Pre-installed bloatware, such as advertising add-on software on Android devices that is not part of the system's basic configuration, or game demos on other systems, can certainly be popular and not perceived as harmful. Useless programs that you do not need, but which take up resources such as processor power, main memory and storage space, should be tracked down and deleted. Especially since they can become a risk due to possible security gaps.

To locate the programs in question, you can use the Activity indicator (macOS) or Task Manager (Windows) to locate resource-hungry processes. With online search engines, the names of the processes can be assigned to individual programs. Furthermore, unwanted apps can also be easily removed from the Applications folder or from the Launchpad. By the way, for the app removal with cleaning of linked folders, I recommend the AppCleaner app. If you need help finding and removing questionable apps, the clean-up functions of will help you CleanMyMac X. Malware can also be detected and removed with it.

How to protect against grayware?

If you choose an Apple device (Mac, iPhone, iPad, etc.), you won't be dealing with grayware in the pre-installed programs. Even if they seem useless to you, they are safe. For Windows and Android devices, the amount and type of pre-installed additional software (bloatware) may vary. When installing new software on any device, you should make sure that no additional programs are installed in addition to the app you want, especially in the case of download portals with their own installer apps. Also keep the operating system and the programs up-to-date with updates in order to be able to exclude security gaps as gateways for unwanted software.

Summary on Greyware

Grayware may be inconspicuous, but it can cause significant inconveniences. Above all, the consumption of computer resources, possibly annoying features of the software and the risk of security gaps must be considered. However, by using computers, smartphones, operating systems and, last but not least, the Internet in an informed manner, a number of risks can be ruled out. In addition, there are different methods and programs for all systems that help to find and remove unwanted software. stop here e.g. For example, look out for the term “Potentially Unwanted Programs” (PUPs).

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