What is Malware?
A lot of people throw around the term “malware” and don’t really know what exactly malware is. Malware is short for “malicious software” and encompass viruses, trojans, worms, adware, bloatware, etc (see below). Therefore a Virus is technically a type of malware. An easy way to remember is if you took Spanish in high school, you should remember that “mal” means “bad” in Spanish. The “ware” part comes from the word “software”. Put them together and you have “bad software”. “Malicious” and “bad” are synonyms. Therefore malware is any malicious application that is installed (with or without the users knowledge) that can be used to wreak havoc on the end computer, or compromise sensitive user information.
Some examples include:
- Adware – Usually track browsing history and pop up relative advertisment
- Spyware – Usually does exactly what the name says. This type of malware “spies” on you and your computer collecting sensitive information.
- Virus – Usually a type of malware that destroys the users computer system by replicating itself and/or deleting or modifying sensitive system files.
- Trojans – A trojan is generally a type of malware that lets the attacker have access to the victim computer. A trojan does not necessarily have to be “malicious” but they are generally used for malicious intent.
How to Protect yourself from Malware
There are various tools and techniques you can practice to protect yourself from malware. A lot of the time malware makes it on to your computer without you knowing but generally sent through email, downloads, and malicious websites.
- I recommend you install a virus scanner if you already haven’t. I would recommend ESET NOD32 Antivirus, however if you want to go the free route, you can always download AVG Antivirus.
- Another tool specifically designed for malware is called Malwarebytes and available to download. Download it, install it, and run a scan.
- It is important to note that some malware will not let you install malware-cleaning software such as “Malwarebytes”. It is also important to note that some malware disguises itself as a virus scanner. Therefore it is important to know what applications you have running in the background.
- It is VERY IMPORTANT to keep your malware scanning and cleaning software up-to-date! To fight the latest threats, you need the latest tools.
- Don’t forget to keep your OS (Operating System) up-to-date as well. Microsoft will release security patches which fix known vulnerabilities.
- Do not download anything you do not know where/who it is coming from.
Do not download any software from website that you do not trust. Be especially careful with p2p (peer-2-peer) software. If the person you are downloading from has infected files, it is likely that you will end up infecting your computer as well.
- Install a firewall to keep your network protected from intruders.
- Install ad-blocking software to stop those annoying popups and ads which can distract you and potentially lead you to malicious websites. For more information regarding blocking advertisements, see my post: Stop those annoying popups with Adblock Plus.