Malware, Spyware, Adware - What is it?

As technology has advanced we have trusted it more and more with our personal information, Bank Details as well as precious photo’s years’ worth of music transferred from vinyl’s and CD’s and much more, things we wouldn’t even dream of handing over to a stranger. And it’s important to keep it safe, and that includes watching out for all nasty kinds of software.

We recently published a new page on ‘Keeping Secure’ advising you what can help your portect you from such things, but from what? what is Malware? what is a Virus? spyware and Adware?

 

What is Malware?

Malware is an open term used to describe a vast range of software that’s intended to cause harm to your device, or to perform malicious actions without your permission or knowing. It can range from being the annoying pop-ups and advertisements, to much more severe infections that hold your information at ransom. But it doesn’t just stop at end users such as you and I, there are even super viruses supposedly capable of infecting nuclear missile systems!

Malware includes a range of nasty things (some you may have heard of) Trojans, Worms, Spyware, Junkware and other damaging software. Having different names means the type of infection from each varies and operates slightly differently, and in turn there are specific and different ways to remove each of them. I’ll go through in more detail about each one of the above.

 

Viruses

Viruses latch on to real programs and applications, meaning they will only be active when you run the infected program. Now normally they cannot replicate themselves and spread throughout your machine or device. However transferring files from an infected program to USB drives or sending files from that program via email, they can spread to other users and machines. Viruses at first were designed and sent out in order to cause PC’s to crash and freeze, however in most cases now they are used to try and steal your data.  Therefore in an attempt to remain undiscovered so they can accomplish this task, most viruses will not cause noticeable harm to your machine. But may still be running and creating havoc by performing malicious actions in the background.

 

Trojans

Trojans are programs that claim to be ‘good’ software or a program, but can actually do a lot of harm. (See why the name is appropriate now?) These can be things such as PC optimizers, or Driver updater’s, anything that tries to make you believe it’s going to do good. But they can really damage your machine and then try to charge you money to fix the damage they caused. Normally the way they work is by installing a program that claims to be ‘good’ for the PC but then it opens a backdoor for other malicious software to get in. So as the saying goes ‘If it’s too good to be true, it normally is’

 

Worms

Worms are similar to viruses, but are even worse! Because they have the ability to replicate and spread themselves throughout your machine. This means that that if you get one, it will spread throughout not only your machine but other computers you connect with, or exchange files with, and it can even try and send its self to other machines without you knowing. This could be devastating for Schools and businesses that have large networks of computers that all connect to one another. So a worm on just one of those machines could infect all of them.

 

Junkware or Adware

This is something I used to deal with a lot in my old Job, and it generally just a collection of toolbars and other pretty useless software that mainly affects your web browsing. Meaning it could result in slow browsing or seeing adverts plastered all over the web page. Good news is this type of Malware is removed without too much trouble, but will often try and reinstall its self on your PC to keep the adverts and toolbars coming.

 

Top Tips on avoiding Malware

Avoiding malware at times can be a tricky endeavour, as a lot of sites have links to ad sites which could lead to more harmful software. There are a number of different points and sources that an infection can occur, so anything on the web that looks suspicious asking to be downloaded or installed, be weary.

The best defence against Malware is always going to you: watching out for the web pages you browse, any emails you may receive and especially what you click on. Most Anti-virus software is never going to be 100% perfect and full-proof. So by all means don’t think your safe and secure by having it installed alone. Here are a few tips to keep safe:

  • Watch out for Phishing Scams as they may try and install malware and pull data from your computer.
  • Keep software up to date, any updates available for you programs or your system do them, better yet schedule them to check regularly and update automatically.
  • Make sure if you have an Anti-Virus it is active and up to date; also be sure it does a system scan frequently.
  • Any pop-ups or adds that don’t look right avoid clicking on them.
  • If you notice your PC becoming sluggish or slow perform a scan as your Machines performance can be affected.
  • Your Web browser: Has it changed, or does it redirect you to another site when you open it.
  • If you do get an infection do everything you can to get it cleaned up there is plenty of software available, something as trivial as a tool bar can lead to worse inflections and result in damage being caused.

Malware is always going to be about: For as long as users store their information on their PC’s and Devices, there’s always someone out there trying to steal and exploit this.

Now that your thoroughly scared to ever touch your computer again, bear in mind, we in IT at one point have been the same and made these simple mistakes. Why do you think we know so much about them and how to remove them? As long as you take care of your machine and device and follow any advice given in this guide, and our keeping secure guide, everything will be fine.

If you have any questions regarding this section let us know, leave us a comment!

 
Edited By: Joshua Thompson
 

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