Here is a great article about Malware written by our guest writer Edward Herbert. I hope you enjoy it and if you are happy please let us know by leaving a review.
Chances are you’ve probably heard the term malware before. It gets banded around a lot when talking about computer safety. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? But you’re not really sure just what it is. We are here to break it down.
What is malware anyway?
The name malware is short for ‘malicious software’. Simply put, it is software that is designed to harm or exploit your device. But who would develop this, I hear you say. Well, that can vary. But most of the time it is a tool used by hackers to help them destroy files, steal your login details, or extract a payment you might have made.
Scammers have been using malware for a long long time. The first computer virus, called Elk Cloner, was discovered on a Mac in 1982. It was created by a 15 year old Rich Skrenta as a prank. The virus infected floppy discs. When a computer was infected it would display a short poem on every fiftieth boot from an infected disk. As annoying as it was, it didn’t actually do any harm to the computer. But that is far from usually the case.
How does it get onto my device?
This isn’t as easy to answer as you might think. Malware can spread in any number of ways. But there are two more common methods. We’ve outlined them here:
- Email — This is one of the most effective ways malware spreads. You might get an email pretending to be your bank, asking you to log in and change something. When you click on the link and enter your details, hackers have your username and password. Or an email might have an attachment on it. If you download it, the malware is now on your device and is tracking your activity.
- Web — Sometimes hackers will build very convincing fake websites. You may get a pop up telling you you have a virus and you need to download some software to erase it. In actual fact, if you click that link, malware will be downloaded onto your device. Crafty, right?
Are there different types of malware?
Yes. A lot.
We won’t bore you with the fine detail but here is a little on each common type out there. You might have heard of quite a few of them:
- Virus — Behaves a lot like a biological virus would. They attach themselves to a file and start spreading. They can harm a system’s core functionality and delete or corrupt files.
- Trojans — Disguises itself as legitimate software and sneakily creates ways to let other malware in.
- Spyware — Does what it says on the tin. Spyware is software designed to spy on you. It tracks all your online activity, including your chat conversations, passwords, credit card numbers, and much more.
- Worms — Worms are a bit like viruses but they can spread without a host file. They infect entire networks of devices by using network interfaces.
- Ransomware — A bit like a cyber pirate might do, this malware locks down your computer and your files, and threatens to erase everything unless you pay a ransom.
- Adware — Triggers annoying blinking ads or pop-up windows when you do certain things. Adware is usually installed when you download a software for free.
How do I know I’ve been infected with malware?
So now you know a little more about what malware is, you are probably wondering how to spot the signs of an infected device. The most common are:
- Your computer seems especially slow
- A whole lot of pop ups
- Infection warnings (they make ask you to buy something to fix the problem)
- Problems shutting down or starting up your computer
- Your browser keeps redirecting to sites you didn’t intend on going to
How can can I stay malware free?
There are lots of nasty malware out there but you don’t have to worry. There are equally as many ways to protect yourself. Check out our privacy tips to make sure you stay cyber safe!