What is Riskware?
Riskware are legitimate programs that can cause damage to your computer if exploited.
Risk + Software = Riskware
Malicious entities can take advantage of the weaknesses of programs to delete, copy, block, or modify data in your machine. Moreover, it can disrupt the network speed and general performance of your computer. Riskware attacks can lead to further exploitation.
How Riskware Works
The goal of any malicious agents is to exploit weaknesses in your computer that will lead to further infection and penetration. Riskware are common conduits of attacks as they often have known loopholes that cyber-criminals can easily take advantage.
There are various types of riskware, but one common denominator is its susceptibility to be for attacks. In some cases, threats exploit riskware weaknesses without being noticed. While the developers of the programs have no ill intention, they have functions that can be used for malicious purposes.
Is It Bad?
Yes and no.
As mentioned above, riskware are legitimate software which are not intended as malware. However, malicious entities will exploit any weaknesses whenever they get the chance. Computers with weak protections are especially vulnerable.
In general, popular security suites such as Kaspersky and Malwarebytes identify riskware as potential threats. It is a safe assumption especially for programs which are previously known channels of attack.
Examples of Riskware
There are various types of riskware. However, the most common are remote administration utilities, downloaders, and even operating system patches.
Remote administration programs are legitimate utilities which technicians use to remotely access computers. It is often necessary for system administrators and other technical specialists. However, the amount of control the remote machine have over your computer can lead to serious vulnerabilities. At the hands of experts, remote administrations utilities are effective tools. However, there are numerous programs with similar functions that are often available to anyone.
Downloaders are another group of applications that are at risk of becoming channels of attacks. Most of these programs have security loopholes that viruses and worms can infiltrate. Moreover, downloading files from questionable sources will open your computer to worse attacks.
Operating system patches are necessary changes to your computer from the developer to fix, update, or improve it. However, poor patch management can lead to vulnerabilities. It leads to security loopholes that open your computer to countless threats online. A good example is the rise of ransomware attacks of the last few years.
Other examples of riskware are chat clients, dialer programs, system monitoring utilities, password management utilities, and Internet server services such as proxy, telnet, and FTP.
How to Remove Riskware
Most anti-virus and antimalware programs do not usually detect riskware. It is tricky to determine which of the applications on your computer poses a threat. However, careful observation of your computer’s performance is one of the first steps to recognizing riskware. A significant decrease in your machine’s performance and network speed may mean you are already under attack.
Programs that appear in your computer without your consent to the installation may pose a great risk. It is especially important to examine applications that you cannot remember installing and rarely use. Uninstalling these programs are typically straightforward. Then, fully scan your system using your anti-virus programs. Moreover, use antimalware applications, such as MalwareFox, to determine if there are infections left behind by the riskware.
How to Prevent Riskware
Riskware prevention requires effort from you and your security applications. It is important to download applications from reputable sources. Regular updates are typically available for these applications. Moreover, make sure that you know the risks and security measures when using applications that can be riskware.
Make sure that you have real-time protection in place. It is ideal to have your Windows Defender Real-Time Protection in place. Moreover, have your security suites run upon startup to ensure real-time protection before you even run your applications. Additionally, security applications like MalwareFox can catch specific threats that may use riskware as their attack channels.
You can always add exceptions to your security applications when you are sure that the program you are using is not a riskware.
Riskware are often tricky to detect right off the bat. However, knowing the usual performance of your computer can easily alert you when a malware uses the riskware to infiltrate your system. Update your security applications regularly to protect from new types of threats. Lastly, be careful when installing applications especially those identified as potential riskware.