“Malware” is short for “malicious software”. Malware is a computer program or software designed to infiltrate and damage computers without the users’ consent. “Malware” is the general term covering all the different types of threats to your computer safety such as viruses, spyware, worms, trojans, rootkits, and so on.

What Can Malware Do?

Malware performs a variety of different functions such as stealing, encrypting or deleting sensitive data, altering or hijacking core computing functions, impersonating a user to send spam or fake messages, and monitoring users’ computer activity without their permission.

How malware works

Malware is often created by teams of hackers, usually, they’re just looking to make money, either by spreading the malware themselves or selling it to the highest bidder on the Dark Web. However, there can be other reasons for creating malware too — it can be used as a tool for protest, a way to test security, or even as weapons of war between governments.
But no matter why or how malware comes to be, it’s always bad news when it winds up on your PC.

Types of Malware

Virus Malware Scanning - Riverstone Technology

The following is a list of common types of malware

  • Virus

Possibly the most common type of malware, viruses attach their malicious code to clean code and wait for an unsuspecting user or an automated process to execute them. Like a biological virus, they can spread quickly and widely, causing damage to the core functionality of systems, corrupting files, and locking users out of their computers. They usually appear as an executable file (.exe).

  • Worms

Worms infect entire networks of devices, either local or across the internet, by using network interfaces. It uses each consecutively infected machine to infect others.

  • Spyware

Spyware, as its name suggests, is designed to spy on what a user is doing. Hiding in the background on a computer, this type of malware will collect information without the user knowing, such as credit card details, passwords, surfing habits, and other sensitive information.

  • Trojans

This type of malware hides within or disguises itself as legitimate software. It tends to act discreetly, it breaches security by creating backdoors that give other malware variants easy access.
backdoors in your security to let other malware in.

  • Ransomware

Also known as scareware, ransomware comes with a heavy price. This kind of malware typically locks down your computer and your files and threatens to erase everything unless you pay a ransom. Ransomware has targeted some of the biggest organizations in the world today — with expensive results.

  • Adware

Adware is used to track a user’s browser and download history with the intent to display pop-up or banner advertisements that lure the user into making a purchase. For example, an advertiser might use cookies to track the web pages a user visits to better target advertising

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How Does Malware Spread?
Malware authors use a variety of physical and virtual means to spread malware that infects devices and networks. For example, malicious programs can be delivered to a system with a USB drive or can spread over the internet through drive-by downloads, which automatically download malicious programs to systems without the user’s approval or knowledge. Each type of malware has its own unique way of causing havoc, and most rely on user action of some kind. Some strains are delivered over email via a link or executable file. Others are delivered via instant messaging or social media. Even mobile phones are vulnerable to attack. It is essential that organizations are aware of all vulnerabilities so they can lay down an effective line of defense.

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How to Protect Against Malware
So now “How do I make sure my computer or network is malware-free?” The answer has two parts: Personal vigilance, and protective tools.

Personal vigilance

One of the most popular ways to spread malware is by email, which may be disguised to look as if it is from a familiar company such as a bank, or a personal email from a friend. Beware of emails that ask you to provide passwords. Or emails that seem to be from friends, but have only a message such as “check out this cool website!” followed by a link.
Personal vigilance is the first layer of protection against malware, but simply being careful is not enough, because business security is not perfect, even downloads from legitimate sites can sometimes have malware attached. This means that even the most prudent user is at risk unless you take additional measures.

Protective tools
Malware security protection provides that second vital layer of protection for your computer or network. A robust antivirus software package is the primary component of technological defenses that every personal and business computer system should have. Well-designed antivirus protection has several characteristics. It checks any newly downloaded program to ensure that it is malware-free. It periodically scans the computer to detect and defeat any malware that might have slipped through. It is regularly updated to recognize the latest threats.

Good antivirus protection can also recognize — and warn against — even previously unknown malware threats, based on technical features (such as attempting to “hide” on a computer) that are characteristic of malware. In addition, robust antivirus software detects and warns against suspicious websites, especially those that may be designed for “phishing” (a technique that tricks users into entering passwords or account numbers).

Robust malware protection specifically guards your finances. These tools safeguard your account information, and can also provide password-management tools so that frustration over forgotten passwords does not lead you to skip over this essential component of protection.

No protection is absolute. But a combination of personal awareness and well-designed protective tools will make your computer as safe as it can be.

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