What is Malware?



what is malware

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Malware is a blanket term for unwanted software that harms a computer. Some are codes, files, and malicious links that infect networks. Worms and viruses like Trojan horses that gain access to a single computer or a whole system… the list goes on.

This is one of the cybersecurity terms you should know. It’s a category under the header: “What is cybersecurity?”



Understanding Malicious Software

Malware is software that is specifically designed with bad intent. The word itself is a contraction for malicious software. Simply put, it’s designed to exploit the victim and benefit the hacker through infected files.

Here are 5 facts about how sneaky malware can be. And some good answers if you’re asking, “What is a Malware Attack?”

Malware Attacks Have Numbers

There were 5.6 billion malicious programs at work across the globe in 2020.



Personal Computer Users Are Worried

Americans are worried about an infected computer compromising their personal data and online networks. In fact, research says over 70% are in this group.

Email Is The Biggest Offender

Ninety-two percent of the way that computer systems get infected is through email. You can spread malware by opening unfamiliar messages on your mobile devices.



Malicious Software is Evolving

The types of malware that steal sensitive data are moving targets. Ransomware attacks are evolving. Here’s a list of some new ones that can affect a computer system.

Malware Disguised is Just As Dangerous

Malware trends are important, like the fact that Trojan horse viruses make up 58% of malware delivery events. Watch out for these types of cybersecurity attacks.



How to Prevent Malicious Code Attacks

Now you know a bit more about these security threats. Here are some tips on using things like legitimate software for malware protection. These suggestions will help you avoid computer viruses and know how to not download infected files.

Get Antivirus Software

This type of legitimate software will let you scan your whole computer or network. Software designed to run regular scans is best. When you’re wondering about how to prevent malware, this is at the top of a lot of lists.

Here’s a free malware protection download list to get you started. This is some of the best anti-malware software you’ll find.

Use Secure Authentication

Avoiding security vulnerabilities means :



  • Use passwords with symbols and numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters as well as eight characters.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication that uses security questions or a PIN.
  • Biometric tools work too. Like iris scans and fingerprints.

Keep Software Updated

Infected computers often have outdated software. Regularly update your plug-ins, browsers and operating systems.

Use Caution When Opening Attachments

Random images too. Some emails from unknown senders might just be spam. But there is no point in chancing a potentially unwanted program that can load malware.

Tips to Detect Malware Attacks

Opening a link to a malicious website can lead to big trouble for personal computers and businesses both. If you start out asking what is malware? This is the next logical step. Here are some ways to identify a mobile malware attack, and others.

1. Strange Posts on Social Media

Watch out for statements on Facebook and other social media like “Look at this picture.”



Click the link and enable malware.

2. Lots of Pop Up Ads

Adware targets Android devices and others with ads. The link might lead to a legitimate product. Or you might install additional malware that can attack your operating system.

3. Constant Redirects

Criminals are trying to steal data when you search and wind up on an unfamiliar site. Some malicious websites look like the real thing. Look for a strange URL as a tip-off to malicious intent.

4. A Sluggish PC

An affected computer runs slowly. Malware variants run services and applications in the background. A hacker has remote access to an infected device. They add other malware so things slow even more. There are other ways to detect a malware infection along with security software and other ways a computer user can remove it.



Removing Malicious Software

If you’ve got it, you want to remove malware. Whether you’re suffering from phishing attacks or other malware types, here’s how to fight back.

Update Your Software

Different types of malware are constantly evolving. Update your software with the latest virus definitions. Here’s free threat protection from Microsoft.

Clear Your Cache



Get rid of different types of malware by clearing your cache. Here’s how.

Reboot In Safe Mode

This is a good tip if you have a mobile device. First, shut it down and reboot in safe mode. Then follow these steps for an Android device.

What is a Malware Attack Example?

Ransomware is a computer virus where a victim’s data is encrypted. Ransom payment is usually requested in cryptocurrency. There are several different vehicles. Like email phishing, social engineering and unwanted advertisements.



Here are some other generic malware examples.

  • Worms can spread to devices on a network. Government agencies are at risk through executable files passed between departments.
  • Spyware is one of the other programs businesses need to watch out for. Spyware steals personal and financial information.
  • Adware high jacks a computer and sends ads to you. Here’s a quick way to check for mac malware on one of those devices.
  • A boot sector virus can be transferred through infected floppy disks. These are dangerous since they can be used on different computer systems.

What Can Happen If There Is a Malware Attack?

Malware infections can cause big issues. One of the big consequences can be identity theft and a target system can be redirected through spyware. Access to other files can be restricted. and daily business operations can be disrupted and/or your computer can be slowed down.

What Are the Reasons for Malware Attacks?

A variety of different types of people create malware. Blackmailers, cheats, and hackers are just a few of the criminals involved. Most of them are trying to make money illegally, but there are a few other reasons. Some of the people who create these viruses are pranksters and others are activists. There are people looking to make an illegal profit and others who are just looking to damage targets.

Image: Envato Elements



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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

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