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What is Malware?

Aug 17, 2007
The term "malware" is an amalgamation of the words "malicious" and "software". When it comes down to it, the term "malware" actually gets its definition from the intent of the creator and not from the function of the software itself. This is because a piece of software cannot be termed "malicious" unless it is used for malicious purposes. As we all know, the purpose of a tool such as software depends on the creator.

Here are some types of malware that you should be aware of:

1) Infectious - This type of malware is composed mainly of computer viruses and worms. These are the most commonly known types of malware. In fact, the word "virus" today is more often used today to indicate a computer virus than an actual physiological virus. Viruses differ from worms in their operation and distribution.

A "virus" used to be spread via the use of floppy disks. A virus would copy itself into an executable file and would be run whenever a certain program is activated or a certain disk is opened.

The concept of a computer worm was introduced when the internet was first used to infect systems with malware. This type of malware would scan different networks for any vulnerable systems and then copy itself to those systems. From its new base, the worm would then begin a new process of scanning and copying.

Although these two terms used to have very distinct meanings and uses, they are now actually used interchangeably to indicate any type of infectious malware.

2) Concealers - generally, this type of malware is used to hide any type of activity within a user's system. There are various types of concealers, such as:

a) Trojan Horses - serving the same purpose as its mythical counterpart, today's Trojan horse may have different appearances. Some Trojan horses take the form of utilities. His appearance encourages a person to make use of them and make improvements on their system. When the unwitting user downloads the program, this then opens a door for other types of software and malware to be introduced into an end-user's system.

Trojan horses are often used by creators of viruses in order to cause a massive computer virus outbreak. By introducing a virus into one network via a Trojan horse, the creator ensures the spread of that virus to other networks.

b) Backdoors - this type of malware creates an alternative pathway or route inside your system. It is used by hackers to create an alternative pathway into a computer. This helps them avoid any sort of security systems that people nowadays place inside their computers. Once inside a system, the hackers will then be able to do anything they want.

3) Profit malware - some forms of malware are created by companies who wish to increase their profits. This type of malware often comes in the form of a dialer. A dialer is a type of malware which messes with your internet connection. Dialers reroute your net connection through an expensive phone line thus, increasing the bills that you have to pay. An unwitting person who has his or her system infected with this type of spyware is forced to pay a huge amount of cash for a service that he or she definitely does not need. Being infected with this type of malware is just like flushing your wallet down the toilet.
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