Various Types of Malicious Software
The internet, for all its wonders, is overflowing with various types of malware, all of which aim to infect and compromise computers. Several reasons explain the existence of these malicious pieces of software; ranging from espionage to sheer human folly and, most commonly, greed.
The definition of malware
The term malware broadly refers to the various pieces of software that have been designed to infiltrate and modify computers without their owners’ consent. As mentioned above, there are several reasons why cyber criminals and others create malware. So, what are some of the types of malicious software that can be found on the internet?
Types of Malware
Several types of malware can be found across the internet. Although they differ in a number of ways, each of these types of malware aim to cause disruption. Here is a list of some of the most common malicious software programs that can be found around the world;
- Trojans Horses
- Rogue Security Software
- Browser hijackers
Viruses are, perhaps, the most known type of malware. Unfortunately, this infamy means that they have become sort of a brand, with which every other malicious piece of software is referred. So, what exactly is a computer virus?
A computer virus can be defined as a malicious piece of software that is self replicating and has been designed to infect people’s computers for the purposes of making unauthorized alterations to the Operation System (OS) and to other software programs, as well as to user generated data. These modifications often result in the disruption of the normal operation of computers.
It is important to note, to avoid confusion with other forms of malware, that a computer virus draws its definition from the fact that, like its biological counterpart, it is able to self replicate and has been designed to corrupt systems and destroy or damage data. An infected computer thus exhibits several symptoms, the most serious of which can, ultimately, make it unusable.
Adware are another common type of malicious software that can be found online. An adware infection manifests itself through the display of unsolicited and unwanted advertisements on a person’s computer. If your computer has ever been infected by adware, you will also notice how some of the search requests that you make are redirected to an advertisement page. Adware can also, more ominously, secretly collect data about your online activities.
- Trojan Horses
If you have ever come across the story of the Trojan Horse; when the Greeks used deception to enter Troy and win the war, you will easily understand how Trojans infect computers.
In computing a Trojan horse is a malicious piece of software that comes disguised as something else, but has the express aim of harming computer users. Trojan horses can come disguised as normal computer programs.
The difference between Trojans and viruses is that the Trojans are not self replicating. They are restricted to a single computer, unless you share the infecting program with other people.
Worms are another form of malware that have been designed for the purpose of disruption the normal operations that we carry out through our computers. There are similarities between worms and other types of malware; like viruses, worms are self replicating.
However, unlike a virus, worms do not modify any programs on the infected computer, but only takes up space on parts of the computer’s memory. This is the key difference between a worm and a virus.
Worms do not need to attach themselves to computer programs in order to propagate. As they continue to self replicate, worms can take up so much space and bandwidth that the infection begins to slow down a computer.
Ransomware refers to malicious computer programs that have been designed to lock people out of their computers and their data, using encryption protocols. Ransomware is often delivered onto computers in the form of a Trojan, that is, a malicious program that comes disguised as an innocent program; such as a game. The victim is then required to pay ransom before being granted access to his or her computer. Ransomware was initially popular in Russia, but has been spreading across the globe.
Rootkits are some of the most infamous malware programs that exist around the world. That is largely due to the fact that they are very difficult to detect and remove. Rootkits give attackers root or administrator access to parts of computers that would otherwise be off bounds. Computers that are infected by rootkits may actually need to have their Operation Systems reinstalled in order to get rid of the problem.
The term spyware refers to any piece of software that hides on an infected computer and has been designed to steal information.
This information, which may include banking details, passwords and email addresses, is then transmitted over the internet to the computers that belong to whoever it is was responsible for the creation of the spyware. Some of the examples of spyware include adware and tracking cookies. Like many other forms of malware, spyware usually comes hidden in freeware and other legitimate programs. There are similarities between spyware and Trojans, in that they both come disguised as something else.
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Keyloggers are a form of spyware that is used to track the keys that are struck on a computer. This is one way through which personal information, including banking details and passwords, are stolen. Keyloggers propagate in much the same way as any other types of malware; through infected downloads, through infected websites and through the sharing of information on Peer to Peer platforms.
- Rogue Security Software
If you have ever fallen prey to this type of malware, you will understand how rogue security software can have a devastating effect on your computer. These are a kind of malicious software that come disguised as legitimate software. They manifest themselves through persistent popup messages, all of which try to convince you that your computer has been infected by viruses and other forms of malware. You are then asked to pay some money in order to get the malware removed.
- Browser Hijackers
The last, but not least, in our list of ten malicious software programs that you need to watch out for in the year 2017 are browser hijackers. Browser hijacking is a common type of attack, in which the settings that are on your computer’s browser are modified without your permission. The result is usually that you begin to get unwanted advertisements or your home page is modified. Browser hijacking infections usually come through legitimate looking online adverts.
A final word
It is important for you, in the year 2017, to remain on guard against the various threats that exist across the internet. There are people out there who are bend on either disrupting the normal function of your computer (for the thrill of it) and on stealing personal information that can, devastatingly, include banking and other details. There are, fortunately a number of things that you can do to protect yourself.
Malwarebytes is a hard hitting program that has been designed to protect against all types of malware. It is also the world’s foremost on-demand anti malware program, which you can use to clean up your PC in the event of an attack.