Did you know that malware is a contraction of malicious software? Malware has been around ever since computers emerged, and with over 300,000 new malicious programs detected every day, it doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere.
So, what is malware, and what does it do?
What Is Malware?
In a nutshell, malware is an umbrella term for malicious software that infiltrates devices with the aim of causing harm. There are many types of malware, all of which work differently to achieve different goals. If there’s something you need to understand about malware, though, is that they’re sneaky, and have very bad intentions towards you.
Malware attacks everything from PCs to mobile devices, Macs, and tablets. In this post, we’ll explore different types of malware and help you understand everything about them.
Is Malware a Computer Virus?
Not exactly. You see, some viruses can be malware, but not all malware are viruses. A lot of people use the terms malware and viruses interchangeably, but technically, they are not the same thing because viruses are a type of malware.
How Malware Works
Technically, all types of malware follow a similar basic pattern when it comes to infecting devices, and they can do a whole lot of damages.
Once you unwittingly download or install malware, it’ll infect your device and spread, causing havoc where it lands. The thing is, malware has to be downloaded or installed, so you could get one from a malicious email link or from a malicious website.
Besides that, since malware is developed mostly by hackers, they spread it through peer-to-peer file-sharing or free software downloads.
Once they embed one type of malware on one link, they can spread it through a whole network of users. Beyond that, malware can also spread through text messages on mobile devices.
Different Types of Malware
There are various types of malware, going from ransomware to worms, spyware, adware, trojan horses, botnets, and viruses. Let’s take a closer look at each type below.
Viruses are some of the worst because they attach themselves to clean files, and they spread uncontrollably. They can easily damage the core functionality of a system and corrupt important files. Most of the time, viruses appear as executable files or “.exe.”
Ransomware is like a kidnapper’s note because it locks down computer systems and files.
A ransomware wil threaten to delete everything from your system unless you agree to pay a ransom to the hacker who sent it. If you store critical or sensitive information on your device, you are at risk of being held at ransom by malicious hackers through the use of ransomware.
As the name suggests, spyware technically spies on the user and reports back to the hacker.
Once spyware attacks your device, a hacker will use it to spy and monitor your internet activities and try to harvest personal data. Personal data could be anything like login credentials, financial information, and credit card numbers, which they will use for fraud or identity theft.
Hackers and attackers use adware malware to create revenue by subjecting users to unwanted advertisements.
If you have encountered those free games, and browser toolbars, then you have come across adware. The problem with adware is that it collects personal data to deliver personalized advertisements, though some adware is actually legal.
You see, in ancient Greek, Athenian warriors hid in a wooden trojan horse and attacked once they got in the city. Similarly, trojan malware presents itself as a legitimate software the minute it infiltrates your device.
The minute you install it, however, it activates itself and serves as a backdoor that other malware can use to get through to your system. Talk about malicious, amirite?
Worms usually have the goal to proliferate entire networks of devices.
It can infect local devices, or use network interfaces to infect devices across the internet. Once it infects your system, it replicates and spreads to other devices and remains active in all infected systems.
Some worms are designed as delivery agents that install other types of malware, while others are designed to spread without causing any harm to the machines. The problem with this type is that it can easily clog up your network with bandwidth demands.
Last, but most certainly not least are botnets. These are not malware per se, but they are a network of infected computers controlled by a hacker.
An attacker can infect several computers with malicious bots, which they will control with commands from wherever they are.
The attacker can use these bots to gain access to many computers, and they can send spam, create fake ads, steal data, and coordinate different attacks for their malicious intentions.
What Does Malware Do and What Devices That Can Be Infected?
The most direct malware is ransomware because it makes its presence known immediately while demanding money.
Most other types of malware are quite hard to detect until the damage has already been done. Some hackers send malware out of spite, and all your important data could be infected for no reason at all.
Still, an infection can have dire consequences because when hackers get a hold of personal data, they can commit fraud and identity theft. At this point, you’ll be facing more problems that will require a lot more than just removing the malware from your systems.
Malware can infect all types of devices, from Android to Mac. iOS malware is quite rare, but if you happen to come across any on your Mac, you can check out this guide on how to remove malware from Mac.
How Do You Know When a Device Has Been Infected?
There are several universal symptoms and signs of a malware-infected system. To begin with, your device could start running slower than usual, you could have a shortage of space, and you may experience unwanted programs and pop-ups on the device.
Keeping Your Device Safe From Malware
So, what is malware? It’s something you should be wary of. As you can see, there are many types of malware, all of which can cause havoc on your systems.
The best course of action is to prevent them from infiltrating your devices, and you can achieve that by installing an excellent antivirus.
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