What is Malware (Malicious Software)? Definition, Types and More
Malware is the contraction of Malicious Software. The malware is a program designed to infiltrate a system in order to damage or steal data and information.
- These types of harmful programs made their appearance during the 1980s when personal computers began to become popular all over the world.
- And, currently, they have on the Internet their favorite means of propagation, either through suspicious email ( Spam ), pages Infected websites, files shared online, etc.
- The origin of malware and computer viruses may have been initiated as a joke or a game, by young programmers, unaware of the damage they could cause.
- However, since then the harmful software has evolved and grown in illegal uses, to the point that the use of antivirus tools has become imperative.
According to reports by the F-Secure company, in 2007 both malware and the previous 20 years would have been produced, and according to Panda Security, in 2011, 73,000 new computer threats were created per day, which exceeds the production of legal software with you grow up.
Where does the malware come from?
We come in contact with malware in a variety of ways, on high-traffic sites such as pornographic networks or gambling sites, or when opening suspicious email attachments.
The malware mostly comes from China and the United States, the world’s largest software producers, or other similar nations. Occasionally these malicious programs may even come from recognized companies, concealed in their products.
A famous case has been that of the ” Windows Telemetry ” process that includes the new versions of Windows. And, that can collect information about user habits and secretly send them to Microsoft, using system resources.
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What does malware do?
All kinds of things. The term is comprehensive, and its effect and mode of operation vary from file to file. The following list describes common types of malware, although there are many more:
Types of Malware
Viruses: Like their biological homonyms, viruses adhere to clean files and infect other clean files. They can spread with a total lack of control, damaging the essential functions of a system, as well as deleting or rendering files useless. Usually, they look like executable files (.exe).
Trojans: This kind of malware pretends to be legitimate software or is hidden in a legitimate program that has been tampered with. It usually acts discreetly and creates security backdoors to allow access by other malware.
Spyware: the purpose of this malware is, as the name implies, spy on it. Stalks from the shadows and takes note of what he does on the Internet, including, among other things, passwords, credit card numbers and browsing habits.
Worms: worms infect entire networks of devices, which can be local or Internet, through the use of network interfaces. They use infected computers to continue attacking other computers.
Ransomware: This kind of malware usually blocks the computer and its files, and threatens to erase everything if we do not pay a ransom.
Adware: advertising software, while not malicious when aggressive can undermine security for the sole purpose of displaying ads which can open a simple path to other types of malware. Also, why deny it, pop-ups are annoying.
Botnets: Botnets are networks of infected computers forced to work collaboratively under the command of an attacker.
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How to protect against malware?
When we talk about malware, prevention is better than cure. Fortunately, some simple and common sense behaviours minimise the possibility of dealing with any nasty software.
- Do not trust strangers on the Internet: “Social engineering,” which includes strange emails, sudden alerts, fake profiles and tempting offers, is the primary method of spreading malware. If you see something that you don’t know exactly what it is, don’t click.
- Double-check the downloads: Both on piracy sites and in the storefront of official stores, malware is often lurking behind the corner. Therefore, before downloading something, check that the provider is reliable by reading the reviews and comments carefully.
- Get an ad blocker: Malvertising, the use of banner hackers to infect your device, is on the rise. It is not possible to know which ads are dangerous. So, it is safer to block them all using a reliable adblocker.
- Beware of the pages you visit: Malware can be found anywhere, but it is more frequent on websites with poor server security, such as small and local websites. If it is limited to large and reputed sites, it significantly reduces the risk of encountering malware.
How to detect malware?
Certain strains of malware are easier to detect than others. Some, such as ransomware and adware, make their presence known immediately. Either by encrypting your files or by transmitting ads endlessly.
Others, such as Trojans and spyware. Do everything possible to hide as much time as possible. Which means they can be in your system for a long time before you know it.
And then there are others, such as viruses and worms that can operate in secret for a while before the symptoms of infection begin to manifest themselves. Files locked, deleted or replaced, sudden shutdowns or an overactive processor.
How to remove the malware?
If you suspect you have malware – or want to be careful – you can take some steps.
- First, if you have not yet installed a legitimate antimalware program, download it. For example, Malwarebytes for Windows, Malwarebytes for Mac, Malwarebytes for Android or one of our business products.
- Then install it and run an analysis. Programs like these are designed to search and remove any malware from your device.
- Once the device cleans up, it may be a good idea to change the passwords. Not only the one on the computer or the mobile device. But also the email, your social media accounts, your favourite websites to buy online, and the online banking and billing centres you use.
- If your iPhone has been infected in some way, things can be a bit more complicated. Apple does not allow the analysis of the iPhone system or other files.
- Your only option is to reset your phone to factory settings and then restore it from your backup (because it has one, right?). You can also use security software that filters and blocks fraudulent calls and text messages, such as Malwarebytes for iOS.
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