What Is Grayware?

Cyber threats come in all shapes and sizes. Some, for example, involve phishing for sensitive information using email or social media, whereas others involve the deployment of computer viruses to harm a business’s information technology (IT) infrastructure.

As a small business owner, you should familiarize yourself with all of the leading cyber threats so that you can take the necessary precautions to prevent them from disrupting your operations. While you’re probably familiar with cyber threats such as viruses, trojans and phishing, you might be surprised to learn that grayware is a common cyber threat facing small businesses. So, what is grayware exactly?

Overview of Grayware

Grayware is a low-impact cyber threat that’s characterized by its ability to negatively affect the performance of the computer or device on which it’s installed but without causing serious harm. It’s called “grayware” because it falls somewhere in the middle between malware and legitimate software.

Malware, of course, is a harmful and malicious software that’s able to wreak greater havoc on your small business’s IT infrastructure. Once deployed, malware may lock your files — such as the case with ransomware — or it may steal sensitive data. Grayware, on the other hand, typically only affects the performance of the computer or device on which it’s deployed. It won’t cause any severe damage to your small business’s IT infrastructure or reputation, but it may result in poor performance with the computer or device on which it’s deployed.

Signs of Grayware

The most common sign of a grayware infection is poor performance. After all, that’s the defining characteristic of grayware — it negatively affects the performance of the computer or device on which it’s deployed.

If one of your small business’s computers is infected with grayware, you can expect slower speeds when executing and running programs. Assuming the computer is powered by Windows, you may see high resource usage in the Task Manager. Grayware often consumes a significant amount of CPU, RAN and disk space.

How to Protect Your Devices From Grayware

Because it’s not classified as true malware, grayware isn’t always detected by antivirus software. With that said, there are other steps you can take to protect your small business’s computers and devices from this cyber threat.

For starters, use caution when downloading software from other websites. Even if a program looks legitimate, it may negative affect the performance of your computer.

You can also protect your computers and devices from grayware by monitoring resource usage. If you see an unfamiliar program consuming a significant amount of resources, consider deleting or quarantining it.