About Spyware and Other Types of Grayware

Your clients are at risk from threats other than viruses. Grayware can negatively affect the performance of the computers on your network and introduce significant security, confidentiality, and legal risks to your organization (see table Types of spyware/grayware).

Types of spyware/grayware

Types of Spyware/Grayware



Gathers data, such as account user names and passwords, and transmits them to third parties.


Displays advertisements and gathers data, such as user web surfing preferences, through a web browser.


Changes computer Internet settings and can force a computer to dial pre-configured phone numbers through a modem.

Joke Program

Causes abnormal computer behavior, such as clos­ing and opening the DVD-ROM tray and displaying numerous message boxes.

Hacking Tools

Helps hackers gain unauthorized access to comput­ers.

Remote Access Tools

Helps hackers remotely access and control comput­ers.

Password Cracking Applications

Helps hackers decipher account user names and passwords.


Other types not covered above.

Spyware/grayware often gets into a corporate network even when users download legitimate software, as the software may contain grayware applications in the installation package.

Most software programs include an End User License Agreement (EULA), which the user has to accept before downloading. Often the EULA does include information about the application and its intended use to collect personal data; however, users often overlook this information or do not understand the legal jargon.

The existence of spyware and other types of grayware on your network have the potential to introduce the following:

Potential Risks and Threats



Reduced computer performance

To perform their tasks, spyware/grayware applica­tions often require significant CPU and system mem­ory resources.

Increased Web browser-related crashes

Certain types of grayware, such as adware, are often designed to create pop-up windows or display infor­mation in a browser frame or window. Depending on how the code in these applications interacts with sys­tem processes, grayware can sometimes cause browsers to crash or freeze and may even require a system reboot.

Reduced user effi­ciency

By needing to close frequently occurring pop-up advertisements and deal with the negative effects of joke programs, users can be unnecessarily distracted from their main tasks.

Degradation of network bandwidth

Spyware/grayware applications often regularly trans­mit the data they collect to other applications running on your network or to locations outside of your net­work.

Loss of personal and corporate information

Not all data that spyware/grayware applications col­lect is as innocuous as a list of Web sites users visit. Spyware/grayware can also collect the user names and passwords that users type to access their per­sonal accounts, such as a bank account, and corpo­rate accounts that access resources on your network.

Higher risk of legal lia­bility

If computer resources on your network are hijacked, hackers may be able to utilize your client computers to launch attacks or install spyware/grayware on computers outside your network. The participation of your network resources in these types of activities could leave your organization legally liable to dam­ages incurred by other parties.

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