Malware, a shortened combination of the words malicious and software, is a catch-all term for any sort of software designed with malicious intent.
That malicious intent is often theft of your private information or the creation of a backdoor to your computer so someone can gain access to it without your permission. However, software that does anything that it didn’t tell you it was going to do could be considered malware.
Malware is sometimes called badwareand is often used synonymously with many of the common types of malware, listed below. In legal documents, malware is sometimes referred to as computer contamination so if you ever see that, it’s just a fancy way of saying malware. Malware is sometimes called badware and is often used synonymously with many of the common types of malware.
What are Common Types of Malware?
Malware is generally understood to exist in one or more of the following forms:
- Virus: infects program files and personal files
- Spyware: Software that collects personal information
- Worm: Malware that can replicate itself across a network
- Trojan horse: Malware that looks, and may even operate, as a legitimate program
- Browser hijacker: Software that modifies your web browser
- Rootkit: Software that gains administrative rights for malicious intent
- Malvertising: The use of legitimate online advertising to spread malicious software.
Some types of adware, the term for advertisement-supported software, are sometimes considered malware, but usually only when those advertisements are designed to trick users into downloading other, more malicious, software.
How Does a Malware Infection Happen?
Malware can infect a computer or other device in a number of ways. It usually happens completely by accident, often times by way of downloading software that is bundled with a malicious application.
Most of the time we download images and videos from internet and we might think that is safe. In reality, with all browsers and plugins that we use for download file are inserting malware into our system that we don’t notice.
How Do You Remove Malware?
Aside from the most serious of malware infections, most are removable with some simple steps, although some are easier to remove than others.
The most common types of malware are actual programs like the legitimate software you use every day. Those programs can be uninstalled, just like anything else, from Control Panel, at least in Windows operating systems.
How Do You Protect Yourself From a Malware Infection?
The most important way to prevent malware from reaching your computer is by making sure you have an antivirus/antimalware program installed and that you have it configured to constantly look for signs of malicious activity in downloads and active files.
Beyond software that automatically keeps an eye out for malware, the most important thing you can do to protect your computer is to change your behavior.
One way is to avoid opening email and other messaging attachments from people or organizations you don’t know or don’t trust. Even if you do know the sender, make sure that whatever is attached is something you were expecting or can follow up about in another message. One clever way malware is spread is by auto-mailing copies of itself to friends and family in an email contact list.
Avoid allowing malware to take advantage of security vulnerabilities in your programs by making sure you’re updating your software when updates are available, especially ones for Windows.