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Reducing Grayware and Mobile Security Threats in Business IT

With mobile devices and applications being used more than ever, including in the world of business, security for these devices is also growing in importance. There are a few ways cybercriminals may try to get at mobile devices to steal business data or related information, and one of these is broadly known as "grayware."

At Onward Technology, our 24/7 on-demand IT support services cover a wide swath of business needs, including security and protection for mobile devices used by business owners or employees. What is grayware, what are some types of grayware out there, and how can you ensure this form of threat does not become a risk for your company? Here are some basics.

What is Grayware?

In most IT circles, the term grayware has grown into a broad one that defines a few different malware threats to mobile devices. Such threats are considered troublesome, but are not "completely malicious" in most cases.

For instance, a common behavior of grayware is to infect a device, then leak that device's phone number to some kind of repository. Some will leak device location or application information, as well, while others may install unwanted ads. Grayware can also function as spyware, as it quietly collects data and sends it back to the attacker.

There are even cases where grayware apps will disappear after being installed, but leave a telltale sign on the device (like a notification icon). They will then harvest sensitive information and sell it to the highest bidder.

Types of Grayware

Grayware can come in all shapes and sizes, with a few specific types out there:

  • Spoofing: This type of grayware is often found in the form of fake apps. They are designed to look like popular or trusted apps, but instead of doing what they promise, they steal data and passwords from users.
  • Trojan: A trojan is a piece of software that seems to be something else (a game or utility, for example), but is actually malware. Once installed, it can do a variety of nasty things, like steal login credentials or financial data.
  • Adware: Adware is a type of grayware that displays unwanted ads on devices. It can be intrusive and annoying, as it takes up space and slows down devices. It can also track user behavior and collect information to sell to third-party advertisers.
  • Malware: This is the most general term for any type of software that is harmful or unwanted. It can refer to viruses, spyware, ransomware, and more.

Tips for Avoiding Grayware

For standard mobile phone use, and especially for any companies with employees who use mobile devices for important company needs and data storage, here are some tips for avoiding grayware risks:

  • Regularly update your mobile device to ensure you have the latest security patches. Many grayware attacks exploit known vulnerabilities in devices and operating systems.
  • Only install apps from trusted sources, like the App Store or Google Play. Be wary of any app that seems too good to be true - it may be a spoof or trojan.
  • Keep your device's software up-to-date and install patches as soon as they are available.
  • Disable features or permissions you don't need or use. For instance, if you don't use location tracking services, disable them.
  • Work with a quality managed IT company like ours.

For more on protecting your mobile devices from grayware, or to learn about any of our managed IT or IT support services, contact the team at Onward Technology today.

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