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What is Malware?

by Cyberguy | Last Updated | August 10, 2021
Cyber Dictionary|CyberSecurity - Consumer|CyberSecurity - SMB

Malware or “malicious software” is a cybersecurity term used to describe all types of software that steals data, spies on you, damages devices and generally causes chaos and destruction.

Malware comes in many forms – viruses, spyware, ransomware, trojan horses, and more. It is created by a team of hackers who are looking to make money by spreading it themselves or selling the malware they created to the highest bidder on the dark web so they can do it instead. In all cases, if it lands on your devices, no good will come of it.

Types of Malware

So what can Malware do?

Unfortunately, the answer is many things, and they are not good. Because the term malware covers a very wide and deep group, the things and particularly the bad things it can do are just as deep and wide.

The most common forms of malware are – viruses, spyware, ransomware, adware, trojan horses, worms, and botnets. But there are numerous variations of these, and in a lot of cases, they work together. 

Stages of a malware attack

So how do I detect Malware do?

As we described before, Malware takes many forms. In some cases – like with ransomware and adware, you will know very quickly if you are a victim of either of these types of malware. Your computer will be locked and they will be asking for payment or you will be inundated with constant AD pop-ups. Viruses, Trojan horses, worms hide in dark places and hidden corners of your devices, making it much harder to detect. They are intentionally designed to be unnoticed so they can lurk and steal for extended periods. Generally, you need tools (antivirus, antimalware) on your devices to detect them.

There are worms and viruses – here again, you really need tools on your device to detect them but often their presence becomes apparent because of noticeable slowdowns of your device’s performance, files being deleted or replaced unexpectedly, or just weird behavior happening like unexpected device reboots, system freezes, etc.

Warning signs of malware infection

Unfortunately, more often than not, the only way to detect these bad actors is to install antivirus/antimalware and similar tools that can detect, quarantine affected files/components of your device or prevent malware from ever infecting your devices to begin with.

Hackers and bad actors are everywhere, and they are constantly creating new types of malware to create chaos for you and me.

You will need to install defensive and proactive tools to combat this never-ending battle.

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So how do I protect myself?

Installing specialized tools like antivirus/antimalware onto your devices is the standard answer. You can also do things to minimize the likelihood that malware will get onto your devices. This includes: 

Methods for removing malware

Being diligent and even following the above to the letter still will not protect you from all the ways bad actors will try to infect your devices with malware. Inevitably you will still need to install defensive and proactive tools like antivirus/antimalware to create effective protection from the internet’s underbelly.

I am infected, how do I get rid of it?

Every form of malware has its own unique way of infecting your devices which means you will likely require specific tools or methods to remove it. It also depends on the device – desktop, mobile, smart device, etc.  Check out our top tips for kicking viruses and other forms of malware off your devices.

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