In addition to students writing computer viruses and cybercriminals developing malicious software for personal gain, there are also threats from ‘grey business’ operations that undertake activities that are on the edge of – or just beyond – what’s legal. These businesses seek to generate revenues from a range of activities, such as:

  • Distributing unrequested electronic adverts
  • Providing fake software utilities
  • Enticing users into visiting chargeable web resources

Generally, these grey market businesses will use hacker program techniques in order to access the user’s computer – without the user’s knowledge – and to resist the actions of antivirus programs.


Special advertising components penetrate the user’s computer, and then download and display adverts – usually without the user knowing that any unauthorised software has been downloaded onto their computer. Often the pop-up adverts will only appear when the user has opened their Internet browser. In this way, the victim is likely to think that the pop-ups are just normal adverts that appear on standard web pages.

Legally distributed adware is often included as part of downloads of freeware or shareware applications. Although it may be possible to uninstall the adware element, some freeware and shareware programs will cease to operate correctly if the associated adware is removed.

Rogue antivirus and anti-spyware programs

The user is persuaded to download a fake antivirus or anti-spyware program. The fake program then states that spyware or a computer virus has been detected on the user’s machine. In reality, the program has not attempted to detect any cyber threats – and usually does not have any ability to detect threats. However, the program offers to treat the infection – in exchange for payment from the user.

Pornography and premium-charge resources

In some cases, software may be installed – without having been authorised by the user – which then tries to persuade the user to visit a website that can only be accessed in exchange for a payment.

Protecting yourself against Grey Market Businesses

Kaspersky Lab offers world-class anti-malware solutions that protect against the Trojan viruses, worms and computer viruses that Grey Market Businesses use to infect their victims’ computers and mobile devices. For more information, please click the links below:

  • Windows PCs
  • Apple Macs
  • Linux computers
  • Android smartphones
  • Tablets