Know Your Enemy: The Many Faces of Malware Explained

September 11th, 2017 by admin

It’s the end of the month, you’ve got deadlines to meet, customers to care for and patients to treat. You need everything functioning perfectly and that’s when your computer seems to be possessed with some kind of unmanageable, poltergeist situation that nobody has time for. If you’re lucky, you’ve got a great team of IT professionals to step in and get things running for you. If not, you might find yourself trying salt circles and an exorcism. If you want to know some of the basics that help professionals deal with malware or if you’re curious about the types of malware and how they affect your system, read on and fear the unknown no more.


Let’s start with the basics. Malicious + Software = Malware. Malware is a broad term used for any malicious software and each of the definitions below fall under the umbrella of malware.


You may have heard “virus” used as an all-encompassing term for any kind of malicious or damaging software, but a virus is a specific type of malware that gets its name from a nasty tendency to replicate throughout your system and intensify in its harmful effects over time. Here is the cool part - similar to a biological virus that replicates by taking advantage of your DNA, computer viruses replicate by attaching their code to executable files already on your system. If your computer gets a virus, it can quickly attach to other programs and apps causing destructive consequences just for running them.


Adware is the most common type of malware, and while it will rarely has catastrophic causes in the short term, it’s annoying in every term. Adware is software that tries to strong arm users into viewing advertisements, and if there is one thing we hate about advertisements, it’s being forced to look at them. Adware can attach itself to your browser and make ads pop-up when you are online. Adware might also be a program you did or didn’t download, that constantly wants to take your screen over and get some kind of interaction from you, usually a click or a credit card ordered security upgrade.


Despite how objectively awesome the word “spyware” sounds, it’s actually one of the least awesome things that your computer can get. Spyware is any kind of software that takes personal data and shows it to an unwanted third party. This can be a keylogger that records everything you type, a web tracker that shows everywhere you’ve been, or a system monitor that shows everything you have on your computer. There are many types and subcategories of spyware, but the connecting theme is that they get information about you and your system with the goal of exploiting that information in some way. These are some of the most frequently discussed kinds of malware. It’s important not only to recognize them, but also to prevent them. If you are looking for tips and information to avoid and eliminate these threats, make sure to take a look at some of our related articles on malware and safely navigating the shifting sands of the world wide web.   Kender Ostlund

Posted in: Protection, Security, Tech Tips