spy·​ware | \ ˈspī-ˌwer How to pronounce spyware (audio) \

Definition of spyware

: software that is installed in a computer without the user's knowledge and transmits information about the user's computer activities over the Internet

Examples of spyware in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The Protection function will also crush adware, viruses, spyware and cryptocurrency miners. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, "New CleanMyMac X Works With M1 Macs And Detects Silver Sparrow Malware," 25 Feb. 2021 In Europe, purveyors of the Pentagon’s spyware, like Hacking Team, started trading those same tools to Russia, then Sudan, which used them to ruthless effect. New York Times, "How the United States Lost to Hackers," 4 Feb. 2021 The hackers then used a notorious piece of NSO Group spyware, known as Pegasus, to deeply compromise and surveil the victims' data and digital activity. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Security News This Week: ‘Bulletproof’ Criminal VPN Taken Down in Global Sting," 26 Dec. 2020 The Pegasus spyware was created by the Israeli firm NSO Group, which has been sued in the United States by WhatsApp and accused of using the encrypted application to spy on journalists and human rights activists around the world. Washington Post, "Report accuses Saudi Arabia, UAE of likely hacking phones of over three dozen journalists in London, Qatar," 20 Dec. 2020 In 2013, software company DesignerWare and seven rent-to-own retailers agreed to delete geotracking data gathered without consent from spyware installed on laptops. Tom Simonite, Wired, "A Startup Will Nix Algorithms Built on Ill-Gotten Facial Data," 12 Jan. 2021 While anti-virus companies expected to see a small rise in the number of detected spyware apps due to improvements in their detection technology, the dramatic increase during lockdown was a red flag to them that abuse was increasing. Mélissa Godin, Time, "How Domestic Abusers Have Exploited Technology During the Pandemic," 31 Dec. 2020 In June, the antivirus company Malwarebytes found that there was a 780% increase in the detection of monitoring apps and a 1677% increase in the detection of spyware since January. Mélissa Godin, Time, "How Domestic Abusers Have Exploited Technology During the Pandemic," 31 Dec. 2020 Several alleged targets of the spyware, including a close friend of Mr. Khashoggi and several Mexican civil society figures, sued NSO in an Israeli court over the hacking. Isabel Debre, The Christian Science Monitor, "Al-Jazeera reporters' phones hacked using Israeli firm's spyware," 21 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'spyware.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of spyware

1994, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for spyware

Time Traveler

The first known use of spyware was in 1994

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Statistics for spyware

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Spyware.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spyware. Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of spyware

: computer software that secretly records information about the way you use your computer

More from Merriam-Webster on spyware

Nglish: Translation of spyware for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about spyware

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