We’ve all heard of malware haven’t we? Even if you only have a basic understanding of it you know it’s bad! But malware can come in many forms and each is different, there’s similarities sure but no two are the same which is why blocking them all is a difficult and complex process.

So let’s take a look at malware in more detail and see what we can uncover about it. First of all let’s look at the main categories of malware you need to know about.

Worms – Named after the insect a worm is a common type of malware that works by replicating its self as many times as possible by transferring itself to as many computers as it can. Worms can transfer themselves in many ways including through the internet and storage devices like USB’s. Worms themselves don’t harm computers but they can slow it down considerably as they can consume hardware space at an alarming rate if not stopped.

Computer Viruses – The digital world is such a part of our lives now that computer viruses are just as well-known as their biological equivalent. Computer viruses like worms have the ability to replicate themselves but unlike worms a virus will do much more damage to your files as well. Viruses have to attach themselves to a host program in order to actually operate but they can be attached to many kinds of files including: videos, songs and much more.

Trojans – Just like the famous wooden horse a Trojan doesn’t damage or delete your files or programs it actually provides a gateway for other programs or users to access your computer system. They can then steal your data, information and potentially harm your computer in many other ways. Just like viruses and worms a Trojan can come in many different forms and each as the potential to do a lot of damage.

Adware – Let’s be honest adverts are kind of annoying most of the time aren’t they? Even if you don’t mind adverts you will soon quickly lose patience if you experience using a computer infected with adware. Adware as the name suggests will display adverts around your computer, while this may not seem so bad the amount of adverts they can produce can quickly make doing the simplest thing on your computer incredibly difficult. Adware is commonly downloaded unknowingly with free software programs so many people have likely experienced the annoyance adware can cause.

Spyware – The stealthiest of the many malware programs spyware works by tracking your internet browsing and will also often steal your personal data and then send the information to a remote user. Like adware many people unknowingly download spyware when they download free programs but while adware is very easy to spot spyware is much more difficult to find, identify and eradicate.

Spam – Oh spam you’re going to be something we’re still be combatting hundreds of years from now aren’t you? Spam as I’ am sure many people know is a build-up of unwanted emails, while your email provider will often detect this and sent them straight to your junk/ trash folder this isn’t always going to be the case. While spam is usually designed to advertise products or services they don’t always serve a commercial purpose, they can also be used to introduce viruses or Trojans into your computer.

Ransomware – Ransomware is not overly common (when compared to the many other forms of malware) however it is one of the most malicious. Ransomware is designed to block your computer and prevent you from running any normal operations or programs. Ransomware will often display messages saying you need to send money or make a payment in order to get your computer running again. This of course won’t actually work but many people have unknowingly fallen for this fake ransom.

Bots – It’s not quite Terminator but bots sure are troublesome! Strangely while bots are technically malware they are not always used for malicious intent. Bots that are being used for malicious needs will infect a host computer and spread out from there, they can steal passwords, log in details and much more. They can also allow other types of malware to infect your computer and in many ways work the same way as worms but often do much more damage.

 

Staying Safe Online!

With all those types of malware out there on the World Wide Web you might feel a little uneasy the next time you log on. While that’s certainly understandable there’s many ways to protect yourself and your computer so you never have to run the risk of falling victim to malware.

There’s many ways to protect your computer and a little common sense can go a long way, let’s look at some good tips to protect yourself.

  • Keep your system up to date, outdated systems can easily fall victim to malware.
  • Don’t use free software always stick to the genuine product.
  • Antivirus software does work and you should make sure you have some installed.
  • Just like your computer system you should also update your antivirus software.
  • Set-up a firewall to ensure maximum protection many machines will have one already set up, but you can change it to a custom one if you prefer.
  • Unknown emails are always a warning sign so don’t open them, especially if they’ve been sent to your junk/spam folder.
  • Unknown links and sites are just as big a risk so make sure you play it safe when clicking links, you never know what might download with just the click of a link.

Why Do People Create Malware Anyway?

There’s many reasons really, while some may hope to drive sales with adware or spam, malware is usually designed to steal information but in the tech savvy world we now live in many people or groups have also designed malware to attack individuals or even large organisations. Just a few of the common reasons are laid out below.

  • Stealing financial or confidential information.
  • To attack an individual or organisation for personal or professionally motivated reasons.
  • To simply prove that they have the skills to take on high level systems.

And there’s many more reasons I’ am sure, some malware creators might even have what they perceive to be noble reasons. However even if they mean no harm to you, you’ll still want to avoid malware and by following our guidelines you should be quite safe from the effects of malware in whatever form it takes.