Riskware is a term used by Kaspersky Lab, the company that created the Kaspersky antivirus software. It essentially applies to the programs that are not spyware or malware by themselves, but contain identified loopholes that can be exploited by malicious programs with relative ease. Riskware programs usually require access to critical system resources to function properly.

Some riskware also have the capability to start and stop system services such as svchost.exe, as and when required. So, any malicious program that manages to infect a riskware will have potentially unobstructed access to those resources, since the operating system will “think” that the riskware is asking for access to those.

Riskware can be of various types. A few known types of which you must always be wary include:

  1. Remote Administration utilities: Third party remote administration utilities are amongst the riskware programs which pose the greatest threat to your PC. Most remote administration utilities require full access permission to work properly. This means that whichever virus or spyware infects the utility will have similar access to your PC. Sounds scary? It is.
  2. Chat software: Several popular chat software programs available can be easily exploited by viruses and worms. Kaspersky, for instance, readily detects mIRC chat utility as a riskware program. Besides, the numerous security vulnerabilities of Yahoo! Messenger have been a cause for alarm for avid chatters for years. Even Google Talk has exploits that are still being patched up by Google.
  3. Operating System patches: Sounds unbelievable? It is true. Kaspersky antivirus software classifies Vista transformation pack (developed by Windows X) as a riskware. There are apparently several security loopholes in it, although the pack itself is an absolutely innocent software package.
  4. Download accelerators: These are often thought of as riskware by system administrators, since viruses and worms can often infiltrate your PC through security loopholes of these programs. Although the ones that can be integrated with the antivirus for scanning the files as soon as download completes are significantly safer, there is still some risk to using these tools regularly.

So, what is to be done if you absolutely have to use some riskware program regularly? Well, you use it, of course. The trick lies in keeping tabs on the amount of resources that is being used by the software. There are some system tools available that can keep a check on the amount of resources that a particular software utility is using. Download one of these resource monitors and allow it to keep tabs on your riskware. Also, keep a good antivirus installed and update it regularly. Scan your PC with the antivirus often to make sure your system stays virus free.

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