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Types of Malware

The more you educate yourself on malicious software, the better off you'll be. Malware is not a virus. In fact, it consists of viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware, rootkits and many other nasty infections. Some of these programs are more of an annoyance than anything, while others pose a serious threat to your computer. Regardless of the type, each of them offer their own unique security threat, and they should be avoided at all costs.

Viruses

The computer virus is the most infamous form of malware. It is a self replicating program that infects a system without authorization. A virus is often transmitted via email but can also be distributed through various storage mediums such as a flash drive. Once installed, it will execute itself, infect system files, and attempt to propagate to other systems. The impact of a virus ranges widely from slow system performance to wiping out every file on your computer.

Worms

Though closely related, worms and viruses are two completely different types of malware. Both have the ability to self-replicate and propagate by attaching themselves to files. While a virus moves from machine to machine, a worm tends to leach onto network traffic and can be a corporation's worst nightmare. In no time, it can travel through the internet and inflict great damage from deleting files to creating backdoors that give its creator control of a system.

Trojan Horses

Similar to the mythical wooden horse used by the Greeks to invade Troy, the Trojan horse is a very deceptive program that appears harmless but is actually one of the most dangerous types of malware. It may arrive as a friendly email attachment or present itself as a useful application on a website. Because it does not have the ability to self replicate, a Trojan cannot be classified as a virus. However, it does have the ability to deliver destructive payloads and unload viruses, worms or spyware.

Spyware

Spyware is a sneaky program that tracks and reports your computing activity without consent. While it isn't designed to inflict damage, spyware can terribly affect the performance of your computer over time. Spyware usually comes bundled with free software and automatically installs itself with the program you intended to use. Signs of spyware include sudden modifications to your web browser, redirects of your search attempts and the frequent displaying of pop-ups. In this instance, spyware can also be termed as adware which is essentially add-supported software that has the ability to track your activity.

Rootkits

A rookit could be a single program or collection of programs designed to take complete control of a system. This type of malware is employed by hackers and gives them all the abilities of a system administrator from a remote location.

Rootkits are very sophisticated as they make hackers very difficult to find. They are often used to infect other computers and enslave them as zombies, forcing them to attack other machines, distribute spam or steal passwords. When attempting to track a rootkit's creator, the search usually ends with the first zombie while the hacker goes undetected.

Staying Safe

As you can see, malware is abundant and will attempt to attack your from every direction. However, there are several security solutions and system updates that will help to keep you protected. Combine these tools with safe computing and you have a much better chance of keeping the malicious software away.

 

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You can protect your computer from viruses without expensive software. Instead, follow these simple tips:

Stay up-to-date on all system updates.

Don't download any email attachments you weren't expecting.

Avoid freeware and peer-to-peer sharing sites.

Use alternative web browsers and email software.