To know what is malware and how it can harm computers, it is important to know about its several variants.
Malware is described as a harmful software app that can wreck havoc in computers and cause unexpected problems, leading to software and hardware problems. There are various kinds of malware, and the ways in which they function are also distinct. They are mostly created by hackers who want to gain access to other computers and networks.
Computer viruses consist of computer programming language codes that cause software apps to malfunction and trigger system slowdowns or crashes. They spread through infected removable media like USB and external hard drives, the internet, pirated and free software, email attachments, and zipped files in most instances.
Trojan horses are a non-self-replicating variant of viruses that resemble regular apps, but contain mechanisms to invite other types of malware. Trojans are mostly spread over peer to peer networks, infiltrated websites (through drive-by downloads) or via email.
Computer worms are apps with the capability to spread themselves over computer networks (mostly without user intervention) by using existing security vulnerabilities. In contrast to other malware types they do not tend to attach themselves to other files and programs. What makes them dangerous is the possibility that they may contain program routines to load other malware.
Computer worms are also spread through removable media, instant messaging programs, peer to peer networks and email attachments.
Those who want to know what is malware should learn about rootkits and spyware. Rootkits are apps that evade system security suites and give hackers user level access to an infected computer. At times, rootkits can comprise apps that may hamper system performance and invite other malware. Rootkits can be found on computers running different operating system, and they can be quite difficult to detect. Rootkits are usually spread as part of a Trojan or a computer worm.
Spyware is a type of malware that gathers personal information of a computer user after it is installed on the system. These are often installed without the user’s knowledge, and they can access core OS files. Typically, spyware apps collect user data and also track their web usage patterns. These apps can also make invisible changes to the core OS files that may hamper your computer activity.
To understand what is malware, it is necessary to learn about its lesser known variants like dialers and adware. Some spywares contain or act as dialers themselves. Dialer apps use the modem used by PC users to establish connections to preset phone numbers. These can incur unwanted phone bills for the user.
Many programs that are downloaded from the internet come with integrated adware. Adware does not cause much harm by itself, but it can act as a gateway for apps that invade user privacy. Users should be more careful about keyloggers- apps that steal passwords and confidential user data from keystrokes.
This type of malware usually hides itself behind security scan related software ads which state that your computer is infected with some kind of dangerous malware (which is usually not true). Being confused or frightened the victim takes the offer to pay for the removal of a non-existent malware threat and instead installs useless software which may contain all kinds of real malware (such as keyloggers, rootkits, aso.).
Users should be careful about browser hijackers that force the browser to visit certain harmful websites. Those who know what is malware are often oblivious about threats like backdoors, which compromise system security.
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