Everyone owns a computer nowadays. We dare say it has become one of the essentials rather than one of the luxuries as it once was. Whatever is your occupation it will most probably include some computer work. If you’re a student, then your computer is your best friend. Computers today have replaced televisions, cinemas, cassette players, and libraries and could even replace universities. You could finish your research and hang out with your friends and then watch a movie, all on your bed, in front of the magical screen that brings the whole world right to your room with a push of a button. Because computers have become a huge part of our life, the need to protect our digital selves has emerged. Think of it. You, like most of everyone else, have everything precious and dear on this device: your social network accounts, your credit card information, your personal pictures, along with all the traces your online presence leaves on the various websites you use every day. The Internet can be awesome, but there are a few things you need to take care of to guarantee a happy and safe online experience. In this article, we will talk about malware and the reasons you really don’t want it anywhere near your computer!
|SEE ALSO: Internet Stalking|
What Is a Malware?
Malware is an umbrella term for any software that causes intentional harm to a computer, gains access to a device without the user’s consent, or gathers private information of an unknowing user. Thus, malware is short for malicious software. If a program or an application causes unintentional harm to a computer owing to a deficiency in its system, it is not considered a malware. So in a way, malwares are defined by their evil intentions.
Because no one would voluntarily download a malware, this software often disguises itself as harmless completely innocent applications. You might download it expecting it to perform a particular task, and it would, but malware would be embedded on the program and will gain access to roam freely in your computer. Malware can also be camouflaged on website pages. When you visit the infected website the malware code unleashes on your computer. You could receive it in an email or a message. It could look like a regular link or an attachment. Whatever is the method, malware does not aim at damaging your computer as much as it aims at allowing its creator access to a big network of infected computers.
You probably heard words like, “malware,” “virus,” “spyware,” and “Trojan” more times than you can remember and weren’t exactly sure if they were the same thing or categories of each other. We will get to this question right now.
What Is the Difference between Malware and a Virus?
We mentioned before that malware is an umbrella term for all malicious software out there. The word thus covers viruses, worms, Trojan Horses, spyware, and rootkits. According to BullGuard, we will divide the previous terms into groups.
- Viruses and worms belong to the same group of contagious threats; that is, they are designed to be spread. Their methods of spreading are different though. Viruses infect software; when you download or start using this software you get infected too and your computer consequently spreads the virus. So viruses need an act on your part to start spreading. Worms, on the contrary, don’t need any user involvement to spread around.
- Trojans and rootkits belong to the same group of masked threats. They conceal themselves or disguise as other harmless software. Trojan Horse gets its name from the infamous Greek trick: where what appeared as an innocent gift turned out to be a means to infiltrate Troy and attack it from the inside. Rootkits on the other hand are “masking techniques” for malware. They are particularly used to allow malware to pass unnoticed by antiviruses and malware detection software.
- Spyware belongs to the group of financial threats since it is mostly used for identity theft and money stealth.
Malware can be very specific and can cleverly sneak its way into your computer. An attentive observer will only notice a little deterioration in Internet speed, but mostly without a helping program it can be very tricky to detect malware or remove it.
Understanding what is a malware and realizing which kind is affection your computer can nonetheless help you protect your data and your device.
If you’re in the mood for a little exploration, take a look at how to remove a virus without an antivirus.
What Does Malware Do?
By now you probably have a vague idea on the kinds of dangers malware puts your computer, and potentially your security, through. So the real question is not what does malware do, but rather, how far can malware affect your computer? Unfortunately, pretty far.
It is important here to distinguish between cyber-vandalism and cyber-crime. When malware first came to existence it was by the young computer-enthusiasts who wanted to experiment their coding skills and see how far it can take them. It must have been fascinating for them how their little games allowed them access to different computers and gave them abilities they didn’t know were possible. Cyber-vandalism does not aim at personal gain but at destruction. Viruses that erase your date, rename your file, or damage your system are considered vandalistic. The creators unleash their viruses and worms and gain nothing in return but satisfaction. Cyber-crime is more devastating. In today’s world, we all have confidential data on the Internet. Malware can reside in your computer waiting for the right moment, the right piece of information, to steal. The malicious software can record every key you press in an attempt to acquire your passwords. Some Trojan Horses are particularly designed to steal money from your bank account. Hackers can steal your identity and buy, sell, or generally move around in the digital world using your name. Cyber criminals connect several computers together and establish networks they can use in whatever purpose that serves their interests. They can use the network to heavily spam organizations and websites or even deny them the service. Cyber criminals are not after damaging your computer; they’d rather an up and going computer that they can effectively use to make money. Cyber criminals can also launch targeted attacks on a single business, destroying its reputation or stealing its customer data. The list of the damages malware can universally cause is endless and the cost the world has to pay is in billions.
Now how do you protect yourself? The Internet has certainly improved our lives but it equally opened the door for crimes: crimes that are hard to trace or even put a hand on.
Malware attacks are spreading more and more every day. Often the attacks are severe and can damage a person’s life or rob them of everything they own. Anti-malware is software specifically designed to detect malware and get rid of it. One of the techniques you are probably familiar with is the on-access scanner. Better safe than sorry! The on-access scanner scans every file a user desires to use. It checks if this is legitimate or safe. If the scanner finds the file threatening, it doesn’t allow the operating system to carry on with the action.
Anti-malware can be used to eliminate the dangers before they access your computer by scanning all incoming data and blocking any threats. Or, it can be used to detect already existent malware and remove it.
Anti-viruses on the other hand can only target classic well-known viruses. Advanced malware can escape their grasp. Take a look at the differences between anti-malware and anti-virus here!
Finally, remember that safety comes first! We spend almost half of our day on the magical world of the Internet, leaning, performing daily tasks, or even chatting with close friends. Like real life, predators are out there looking for a chance to make profit or to just ruin someone’s day. Don’t be the victim! Value your security and take a few minutes of your time to find and install a protective system. Make your research; find the software that suits your needs best. Put it into action and wander fearlessly in the online sphere.
Whether it’s your business, your identity, or merely your Facebook password, do the right thing and keep your data secure. Internet safely!