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What Is Foistware?

What Is Foistware

Date First Published: 4th April 2024

Topic: Computer Systems

Subtopic: Computer Software

Article Type: Computer Terms & Definitions

Difficulty: Medium

Difficulty Level: 5/10

Learn about what foistware is in this article.

Foistware describes software that is installed without the user's knowledge or consent, most commonly toolbars, browser extensions, and system utilities. It is "foisted" on users and often bundled with another unrelated product and puts hidden components on a system. For example, an installation package may install an unwanted browser toolbar and the opt-out choice may be hidden or worded in a way that makes it likely for the user to miss them.

Developers of free software with large distribution often get paid to bundle unrelated software with their main software, so the developers try to make money by tricking users into installing software they don't need. This can have an impact on system performance, unnecessarily consume system resources, and reduce efficiency.

Is Foistware Malicious?

Foistware is not always malicious, but it is often unwanted and more of an annoyance than a benefit for the end user. It is often installed through deceptive practices and extra, unwanted software added to an installation package. If users click Next or Okay without reading the agreement or checking that nothing else is ticked, they will end up with extra software that they didn't intend to install on their computers.

Some foistware can be malicious and come in the form of spyware or browser hijackers which steal sensitive information or modify the user's browser settings without their permission. The installation often happens without any user consent.


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