There are people out there who want access to your computer. During the early days of the internet, the most usual motive for this was to engage in pranks. It didn’t take long though, before criminals realised that they could make money by gaining access to the computers of other people. It is this desire for profit that has led to the rapid rise in the number of malware attacks online.
What is Malware?
This type of software is designed to give other people access to your computer. Malware is short for malicious software, and there are now many types of computer programme that would fall into this category. Some forms of malware are relatively harmless, but it can be used to steal your identity, invade your privacy, or damage your computer. Even the less dangerous forms of malware will still be making use of your computer’s resources.
Types of Malware
The most common types of malware would include:
Viruses are the most well known type of malware and even those people who hardly ever touch a computer will likely have heard of them. A computer virus is similar to a biological virus in that it spreads by replicating itself – in order words, one computer can infect another. Most viruses are designed so that they go undetected until it is time for them to perform a certain action.
A Trojan virus is basically a wolf in sheep’s clothing. This malware is hidden inside software that performs a useful function – it could even be hidden inside fake anti-virus software. Once the Trojan has been smuggled into your computer, it is then free to start causing mischief.
Spyware is designed to follow you around and report your online movements back to people who would benefit from this information. Some spyware, such as cookies, can be relatively harmless. There are also things like keystroke logging that will record what you type on your keyboard – this can be then used to steal things like passwords. Other types of spyware can be used to take over your browser and direct you to websites you have no interest in visiting.
Worms are similar to viruses, but the way they work is by replicating within your computer system. The can be hidden inside many files on your computer, and this makes them harder to deal with.
This is a type of malicious software that initially has no real affect on your computer. It just waits until it is activated by the person who created it, and it can then give this individual control over the system.
How to Deal with Malware
Even if you only ever use the internet for email, you will still be at risk of malware. Here are some of the steps you can take to deal with this threat:
- One of the first things that you need to do in order to protect yourself against malware is to install anti-virus software. If you want a high level or protection, it will be best to choose a premium product (i.e. not the free version).
- Avoid downloading software unless you are sure that it is coming from a reputable source.
- Websites providing pirated movies and music via torrents are often used by criminals to spread malware. It is best to avoid downloading this type of content.
- Do not open an email attachment from a stranger unless you know what it contains.
- Always be sure to do a security scan on any USB drive that you are using to add data to your computer.
- Use firewalls to protect your computer from unwanted internet traffic.