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Applets―software fragments or individual stand-alone applications created in the Java programming language. They are typically plugins with executable bytecode that are downloaded from the server onto users’ computers and then run in the web browser within the context of the webpage that called them. For example, they are used to organize interactive dialogs on web sites, visualize graphic effects, for animation, to create web-based games, etc. These types of applets are not dangerous, but many malicious and unwanted applets do exist. They can be used to spy on users by collecting confidential information and sending it to attackers, to download trojans, to exploit various vulnerabilities, and so on.
Dialers―programs utilizing a dial-up (telecom modem) connection to connect users to the Internet or to access certain websites. Depending on the type, they can be used as intended or to illegally connect victims to expensive telephone lines and phone numbers with premium tariffs.
Miners―programs specialized in mining cryptocurrencies on various electronic computing devices, such as computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. They pose no direct threat if the device owner understands how they operate and installs them on their own and for their personal needs. Nevertheless, such apps are considered potentially dangerous because they can be used by cybercriminals against users―without their knowledge or permission. For example, they can be installed by malware that has infiltrated the operating system. In that scenario, the mining software disrupts the normal functionality of the infected devices, reducing their performance, which leads to overheating and overall energy waste.
Monitoring software―applications designed to track user activity, control their actions and collect various information about them. Many of these apps are not malicious by default. However, if surveillance and supervision is set up without users’ knowledge or permission, the software can turn into spyware. It is for this reason that monitoring software is considered potentially dangerous. If you have never installed these apps for your own use or are not sure if they are safe, it is highly recommended to uninstall them upon detection.
Unwanted software―a large group of programs that have different functionalities and one way or another are able to harm users during operation. Various system tweakers and optimizers, third-party software catalogues, driver and software updaters, system monitors for computers and mobiles are often seen among these types of applications. Unlike malware, unwanted software doesn’t perform malicious and destructive actions directly but can negatively impact users.
For example, some of the optimizing applications (tweakers and “garbage cleaners”) more or less provide the intended functionality, but intend primarily to force users to purchase full versions of the apps. To do so, they can mislead users, routinely alarming and scaring them by allegedly “detecting” serious errors and a large number of “viruses” while offering users to buy the fully functional version to fix the problems. Moreover, such programs can accidentally damage devices, deleting harmless files, Windows registry entries (in cases of Windows devices), or changing important system settings, mistakenly considering them useless.
These apps also include software and driver catalogs and collections. They can give true access to various apps, but these are most often free applications that are available to everyone without any limitations. As a “payment” for the “help” in searching and installing software, these apps can silently install unnecessary and unwanted software, generating profits through ads and pay-per-install schemes. This type of application can also install outdated and vulnerable versions of legitimate apps, exposing users’ devices to potential attacks.
Riskware―specialized programs, utilities and other software instruments that are typically used by information security specialists, hackers and experienced users. They are not malicious themselves but can be used for harmful purposes―brute-forcing and extracting passwords, hacking email accounts, obtaining additional system privileges, changing operating system settings, silently mining cryptocurrency, sniffing Internet traffic to highjack and collect confidential information, etc.
Adware―programs and specialized plugins designed to display ads on users’ devices without their consent or permission. Some apps of this type are relatively harmless and others are quite dangerous. The advertisements they display can be annoying and also lead to malicious and dangerous sites containing trojans and other threats. Moreover, some of these plugins can spy on users, change system and web browser settings, disrupt the normal functioning of computers, smartphones and other devices.
Remote Administration Tools (RAT)―programs designed to remotely control servers, computers, mobile and other computing devices. They allow remote access and use of devices’ software and hardware resources. They can also be engaged to monitor and supervise users. These tools are used both legitimately (i.e., by system administrators and device owners) and by malicious actors for illegal and criminal purposes. Therefore, they are potentially dangerous instruments.