WARNING! You are about to install some malware!
Starting from the moment a warning similar to the above message pops up on your screen, till the time you've followed all instructions to protect your computer from the threat, it's sheer panic. While most of us have faced this situation, and many among these 'most' have actually gone through the harrowing experience of setting things right after their computers have been invaded, the exact facts and information regarding malware is still a bit obscure. While we all know that it relates to wicked programs and software designed to stealthily access our computers and cause considerable damage in terms of data stealth and system corruption, such knowledge is, at best, generic.
Malware and Its Various Forms
The term malware is a portmanteau of malicious software. As mentioned above, malicious software is a program that is specifically designed to invade a computer system that is accessing the Internet without the informed consent of the human user or owner of the computer system. Malware is usually a hostile, intrusive, or annoying program, which may cause considerable damage, such as data stealth, data loss, drive corruption, file system corruption, etc. The status of malware is usually given to a software based upon the perceived intention of the writer of such a program. Here is more on the different forms that malware can come in.
A computer virus is a program designed in such a way, that once it invades a computer system, it replicates itself just like an actual biological virus. The replication continues till either steps are taken to remove the infection, or till the virus has taken over the entire system. Computer viruses need to attach themselves to other programs to be able to replicate. Similar to biological viruses, even computer viruses need working hosts. Email viruses are the most common ones used to invade a computer system.
A computer worm is also an infection, and like a virus, it replicates across the entire computer system. However, unlike a virus, a worm does not need to attach itself to an existing program, and the replication can take place even without user intervention. Worms don't always corrupt files or drives. They usually invade computer networks due to faulty computer security and low network security. The harm caused by them may include something as simple as eating up bandwidth and slowing down the system.
Trojan horses are malware that enter the computer system under the guise of a useful application, mostly with the user's knowledge, and appear to perform relevant or desired functions. However, under this guise of utility, Trojan horses make way for unauthorized access to the user's system. Removal could be quite a time-consuming task if the infection has spread.
These are advertising-supported software which automatically play or download advertisements to the computer, and in doing so, expose the computer to spyware and other privacy invasive programs and software. These mostly come in the form of pop-ups, and the best way to avoid them are to disable pop-ups. You can also take the help of various adware protection tools to stay safe from adware.
These are specifically designed for the purpose of cybercrime, and are mostly used to carry out identity theft and hack the user's accounts to commit fraud. Such fraud usually includes fraudulent online financial transactions by hacking the genuine user's account.
As the name suggests, these are installed on the user's computer system to spy upon user information without the latter's knowledge. Detecting these is a really difficult task, as they may exist in your system for months without your knowledge. Installing an anti-spyware software is advisable―after all, prevention is better than cure.
These are marketed to users under claims that they would correct a threatening computer situation. Most of the time, they are sold by cyber criminals who claim that your computer is hit by a virus, and that downloading this other software and installing it on your system will be beneficial. Most scareware are scam software or spyware.
A rootkit is an auxiliary malware that allows privileged access of another software to a computer system by hiding the latter's entity from the users and even administrators. It does so by causing a subversion of the functionality of the regular operating system.
Nowadays, a lot of anti-malware products are available, which, when installed on your computer, protect the system from potential threats and gives you a warning when you are about to install certain unknown software applications. This is a better option than anti-virus software, as anti-malware software safeguard your system against all the other seven types of threats as well as viruses. These software are enabled for detection as well as removal of malware. So, the next time you see that attractive offer to download and install a free application, stop right in your tracks. It could be a malware.