Malware means malicious software and it's often being used as an umbrella-term for harmful software that spreads online. There are different types of malware that serve different purposes, from intentionally damaging computers, to stealing confidential personal information. Malware commonly conceals itself alongside, or imitates legitimate free software to dupe users into installing it.
The best-known types of malware - viruses and worms - have been named after the methods in which they spread. A computer virus is a program that has infected some executable software, so that when it is run it spreads the virus to others. Viruses can contain a ‘payload’ of harmful software. On the other hand, a worm transmits itself through a network to infect other computers, and can also deliver a destructive ‘payload’.
Trojan horses are a form of malware - the term describes a program that conceals its true identity, inviting you to run it on your PC. The hidden content may act immediately, causing a wide variety of damage - deleting files or installing of other malicious software. Trojan horses can also be used to start off a worm outbreak by enabling its delivery to a local network.
Spyware is a pernicious form of malware that can be extremely hard to detect and is frequently installed without your knowledge. A very common method of spyware transfer is through the download of free software. Spyware may also be installed through a Trojan. Once on a PC, it interferes with the computer system to spy on personal and confidential information.
This surveillance can be extremely damaging, as spyware can be used to install dangerous ‘key-loggers’. These are small programs used by criminals to monitor and log each keystroke typed on your keyboard, including typos, backspacing and retyping. These software devices facilitate the theft of online banking and credit card information.
Adware is the collective term for software packages that automatically display, play, or download advertisements onto your computer. Adware is often benign and usually takes the form of pop-up adverts, with the purpose of generating revenue. Not all adware is harmless though, as it can be used to conceal other integrated malware.
To protect against malware, including harmful spyware, users must ensure your operating system is up to date by downloading the security patches that are constantly released to correct weaknesses. Vigilance is paramount when downloading any software, so always assess whether or not the source is trustworthy and carefully read license agreements.
Antivirus software is essential and you should install yours in combination with a firewall which acts as a gateway to block unauthorised malware access to your computer. BullGuard Internet Security 10 comes with a variety of security tools, such as antivirus, firewall and antispyware software.
What is a firewall?
What is a worm?
What is a rootkit?
What is a keylogger?
What is ransomware?
What is spam?
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