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 My first question was an obvious one for the head of a spyware company linked to repressive regimes. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Why I Opt Out of Facial Recognition," 4 Dec. 2019 According to Facebook’s filing in San Francisco federal court, the Israeli spyware firm created WhatsApp accounts using numbers registered in countries like Israel, Brazil, and Sweden, and used them to target users between April and May this year. Tripti Lahiri, Quartz, "Facebook has accused an Israeli tech firm of hacking WhatsApp to spy on activists, journalists," 30 Oct. 2019 Associated Press Facebook sued the Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group on Tuesday in U.S. federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of its encrypted messaging service WhatsApp with highly sophisticated spyware. Frank Bajak, USA TODAY, "Facebook sues Israeli company NSO Group over WhatsApp spyware," 30 Oct. 2019 Khashoggi’s friend Omar Abdulaziz is one of seven activists and journalists who have taken the spyware firm to court in Israel and Cyprus over allegations that their phones were compromised using NSO technology. NBC News, "Facebook sues Israel's NSO Group over alleged WhatsApp hack," 29 Oct. 2019 WhatsApp is to sue the NSO Group, an Israeli maker of commercial spyware. The Economist, "Business this week," 2 Nov. 2019 The spyware is said to be especially effective in its ability to monitor a user’s voice calls, messaging, location and general phone use. Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa, "A WhatsApp hack used Israeli spyware to target Rwandan dissidents," 30 Oct. 2019 Its spyware allows governments to track the location, communications, contacts and web activities of targets. Nicole Perlroth, New York Times, "WhatsApp Says Israeli Firm Used Its App in Spy Program," 29 Oct. 2019 Sensitive data accessed by the spyware included WhatsApp, iMessage and Telegram text messages, Gmail, photos, contacts and real-time location — essentially all the databases on the victim's phone. Frank Bajak, chicagotribune.com, "Hackers infected thousands of iPhones with spyware, Google researchers say," 30 Aug. 2019

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

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The first known use of spyware was in 1994

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Statistics for spyware

Last Updated

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Spyware.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spyware. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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More Definitions for spyware


How to pronounce spyware (audio)

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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