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

Clicking on the link might expose a user’s computer to infection, hidden spyware or data theft. Matt O'brien, The Seattle Times, "Microsoft’s anti-hacking efforts make it an internet cop," 21 Aug. 2018 The challenges tech companies face in identifying spyware that can be used maliciously Ristenpart et al. Nicki Dell, Karen Levy, Damon Mccoy, Vox, "How domestic abusers use smartphones to spy on their partners," 21 May 2018 To say that selling spyware is a controversial practice is a bit of an understatement, given that enables stalkers and abusers. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security Roundup: Ukraine Blocked a Russian Hack of Its Critical Infrastructure," 14 July 2018 Lookout believes the espionage campaign was orchestrated by a spy agency that outsourced software development work to coders who charged about $50 an hour to develop a spyware tool. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Mobile-Phone Malware Is Rising. Blame Spies.," 7 June 2018 Many of those spyware apps were served in third-party app stores that are not authorized by Google. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "Unknown Tech Brands Aren’t Like Groceries. Don’t Just Grab Them.," 4 Apr. 2018 The company that offered Soniac, Iraqwebservice, had published other spyware apps on the Play store. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "Unknown Tech Brands Aren’t Like Groceries. Don’t Just Grab Them.," 4 Apr. 2018 And the Mexican government has purchased tens of millions of dollars’ worth of the spyware, using it to eavesdrop on lawyers, journalists and government critics, as the New York Times reported last year. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: Spyware theft case offers a cautionary tale for encryption debate," 6 July 2018 The increase is being driven by the proliferation both of low-cost smartphones and of companies selling spyware and hacking tools to access them, said Claudio Guarnieri, a security researcher with the human-rights group Amnesty International. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Mobile-Phone Malware Is Rising. Blame Spies.," 7 June 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near spyware

spy out

spy out the land






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Time Traveler for spyware

The first known use of spyware was in 1994

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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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