Malware is a term used to describe harmful software that infects an operating system or any other device such as smartphones, tablets, and smart televisions. The term malware is a portmanteau of malicious software. Malware is not an easily defined term as it can include a variety of programs including spyware, adware, trojan horses, and worms.
Viruses are one of the most well-known types of malware, they are computer programs that can infect a system with bad effects.
Whilst there is no standard for classifying viruses there are some general guidelines.
A virus must be able to propagate or reproduce itself either by attaching itself to another program so it becomes a parasitic virus or by inserting its own code into another program so the new program is actually a modified version as it stores part of the virus.
Other types of malware such as worms and Trojan Horses also reproduce themselves but they do not attach to other programs.
Worms are a specific type of virus that is designed to infect a computer network and replicate itself. They do not attach to other programs but they will use the network to spread from one computer to the next. Worms can cause large amounts of damage as they exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems or networks which then allows them to spread quickly.
A Trojan Horse or “Trojan” is a program that claims to do one function but actually performs another. An example of this would be a Trojan claiming to be an anti-virus program but instead installing more malware on the computer. The name comes from the story of the ancient Greeks who hid soldiers in a wooden horse which they presented as a gift to the enemy.
Adware is a type of software that displays adverts, usually on websites you visit. There are many different forms of adware and some will show ads in web browsers or produce pop-ups. Adware can sometimes be difficult to uninstall as it generates more advertising campaigns every time you try and delete it.
Spyware is a term used to describe any malware that spies on users and collects information about them without their knowledge. This information can be collected by monitoring the websites you visit, what you type into forms, or even by recording sound via your microphone.
If you want to protect yourself from malware, it is important that you be aware of all the potential risks so you can try and avoid them.
If your computer does become infected with malware there are programs such as Malwarebytes which can help remove most types of malware. It is also a good idea to have strong anti-virus software as well as a firewall to help protect you from malware.
This post was originally published on 2, January 2022, but according to new information stuff, this post is updated frequently.