What is Malware?

The word “malware” comes from the words “malicious” and “software”. In simple terms, malware is any type of software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer without the user’s knowledge. Malware is often referred to as “computer virus” or simply “virus”; however, it can be so much more than that. For example, malware includes worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, crimeware and more.

Malware is programmed to cause various types of harm to your computer. This can happen by damaging programs, deleting files, or reformatting the hard disk. Some malware takes control over your computer as well as access your personal and confidential information. Other malware types are not designed to cause any direct damage; instead they simply replicate themselves and may make their presence known by presenting text, video, or audio messages. However, the latter types of malware are not just annoying to a user, but can create problems by taking up computer memory, often resulting in erratic behavior, data loss and system crashes.

In current days, malware is only getting more common, and the need for antivirus or Internet security software is bigger than ever. In fact, results from studies conducted in the past year have suggested that the release rate of malware and other unwanted programs may be exceeding the release rate of legitimate software. Compared to earlier years, malware production in just one year now exceeds the total of the past 20 years.

One big reason for this is the fact that not only work computers but also personal computers are now connected to the Internet. People are getting accustomed to using the Internet for basically everything we do; whether it be keeping in contact with friends and family, reading the news, shop, or bank. Malware writers are taking advantage of this, and malware writing is becoming more and more profitable.

To not risk getting infected by malware, it is extremely important to use anti-virus and anti-spyware software and to make sure these are always kept up-to-date. Firewall use is also recommended. A couple of examples of software that gives you protection against all types of malware are Kaspersky Internet Security and Trend Micro Titanium Maximum Security.

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History of Malware

The early types of malware were written not to cause harm to a computer user, but as experiments or jokes. These early malware writers probably had no idea how much harm their creations would cause in the future. Even as late as 1999, some well known malware seems to have been written as a joke. This includes the widespread Melissa worm.

Some types of malware, especially worms, seem to serve the same function as graffiti; the malware writer’s alias or affinity group shows up anywhere the worm goes. Examples of well-known worms of this kind are the Windows ExploreZip, the Code Red worm or the Ramen worm, designed to destroy files on a hard disk, vandalize web pages, or corrupt file systems in various ways.

hese days, especially since broadband Internet access became common, malware is often designed for some sort of profit motive (forced advertising, or simply criminal). In the past few years, a large part of widespread viruses and worms were designed to take control of users’ computers. No matter the type of malware, Internet threats are becoming more and more dangerous. But how can you know you have been infected and how do you Stay Safe from Malware?

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