What are the Different Types of Malware
Malware is the short way of saying “malicious software.” Hackers use unique codes and scripts to create malware so that they can access your computer. Once a hacker gains control of your computer, they can collect your personal information, take over your computer, or cause your computer to have operational issues. These operational issues can cause your computer to run slow, crash, or worse – it can render it useless.
Where does Malware come from?
Malware comes from the Internet. It sneaks on your computer, right under your nose. You can accidentally download it when you open an infected email. You may visit a website that has been masked as a site your trust, and the Malware transfers itself to your computer. Often times adult websites will sneak spyware on your computer.
It can also spread through a network like wildfire. If one computer on your network has a type of Malware on it, your computer is at risk of becoming infected. Say for instance, you access another computers files at home or at work. Say for instance, the document saved contained a virus, as soon as you open, copy, or save it to your computer, you’re sunk. You just transferred the virus from one system to another.
How many types of Malware are there?
There are many types of Malware. The most common are Adware, Keyloggers, Rootkits, Spyware, Trojans, and Viruses. Now, one thing to keep in mind. There are several types of viruses, which, all do different things. I hope to have an article soon that will explain all the different types of viruses, so watch the blog for that one. Because of these malicious programs, it is necessary to have antivirus running on your computer.
Now that you have somewhat of an understanding of what exactly Malware is, let’s dive into the top five kinds of Malware.
Adware comes in the form of pop-up or add-ons when you install software. You know those boxes that say “check this box, to install “xyz” program or make “abc” page your home page.” Those are forms of Adware. Usually Adware is pretty harmless, by itself – it just gets annoying. It’s a sneaky way for advertisers to get you on their site so they can make money. It becomes a problem when there is spyware, keyloggers and other intrusive software hidden in the background script.
Tip: You can prevent pop-ups and adware from infecting your computer by adding a pop-up blocker to your internet browser. You can also manage pop-ups from most virus protection software.
Also, make sure you uncheck those boxes when you install software. They automatically come checked. So half the time if you are speeding through the installation of a program, you wind up adding the adware to your browser and install other programs that you did not need on your computer.
A keylogger is a type of Malware you don’t want on your computer. With a keylogger, the hacker gains access to your personal information. Every keystroke you make gets “logged” into a file and sent to the hacker. If you have a keylogger on your computer, you may notice that some of your on-line accounts have become compromised. Websites like Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace, Twitter and Email accounts, they all require a user name and a password for your protection, right. Well, these things are to help prevent unknown persons from accessing your account. But, if a keylogger recorded the user name and password, the hacker can now access your account to send email, send information to people in your social accounts and so on. The worst part is, they could also attack your financial accounts like your PayPal, bank accounts, credit card accounts, billing accounts and more.
Tip: To keep keyloggers off your computer make sure that your virus protection helps to protect against this type of Malware. Most virus protection programs do, but it is still best to check the program’s website to see what it protects against. It may be called anti keystroke logger. Norton has a very good keylogger tool built into their program.
Rootkits, once on your computer system can give a hacker access to control your computer. It’s basically like giving them administrator access to do whatever they want. If you have virus protection, you don’t need to worry so much about rootkits as they are usually detected right away by your virus protection software. However, if one does get on your system, you will notice slowed performance, lack of memory, or your computer actually doing things that you did not command it to do. Things like, the mouse moving on its own, programs opening up, when you were not at the computer, and basically just no control over what your computer does.
Tip: Once a rootkit is on the system, it usually hides out in the systems kernel – basically one of the main parts of your operating system. Trying to run virus protection at this point usually deems useless. You can get rid of it by dumping your operating system and reinstalling the entire operating system. That’s why it is a good idea to back up your files at least once a month.
Spyware is a form of Malware that collects data about you. Now, keyloggers are a form of spyware – just so you know. Spyware is usually installed when you install a program, but it can also come from downloading from the internet.
Spyware can do other things like log what sites you visit and what you do on the internet. It can also redirect you to a “fake” website, masked to look like the “trusted” site. Have you ever gotten a warning from your internet security that the website is malicious, has an expired license, or just should not be trusted? Well then, it may be spyware is trying to access your computer and your virus protection is telling you not to go on that site because there is malicious content found.
If you have spyware on your computer you may notice that programs tend to freeze up, or your system will not boot up, you may take forever to get on a website, or open a program or document. This is because the spyware is causing the system to use too much memory, so the system will lag.
Tip: Most virus programs are designed to block spyware. Windows built in firewall will also help protect against this kind of malware. Normally you will get a pop up that asks if you trust the source, or it will tell you that what you are installing is not safe. However, just like a keylogger, if you system is infected to the point things are not working at all, your only choice may be to dump the operating system and reinstall it.
The name Trojan is derived from Greek mythology. Just like the Greeks used a Trojan Horse, to gain access to the city of Troy. The Trojans thought that the horse was left by the Greeks as a gift, after they sailed away in their ships. Not so. An army of Greek soldiers were hidden inside ready to take down the city of Troy and end a 10-year war.
Trojans are another sneaky way of stealing your information. Hackers are able to get this nasty form of Malware on your computer, usually when you download something from the internet. A lot of games and supposedly “helpful programs” are just a ploy to infect your computer, hence the name “Trojan.”
Trojans can also log your keystrokes, crash your computer, access/upload/download, and modify files on your computer, and auto spam people from your email accounts. They can also track your every move on the internet. What cookies you’ve accepted, bookmarks, history, and the IP addresses of sites you’ve visited.
Tip: Most virus protection programs detect and automatically quarantine Trojans. They also warn you that a site you are about to click on is infected or not trusted. In fact, my Kaspersky just told me the other day that a site I was going on for research had a Trojan virus on it. The auto-pop-up came up and I was able to choose not to access the site.
Bitdefender is also another excellent program for detecting and removing a Trojan virus.
I can’t stress enough, how important it is to have virus protection on your computer. Why leave yourself open to a world of computer issues you don’t to deal with?
Sometimes, it is better just to start again. If your computer is so badly infected that you can no longer open files, access the internet, or just do daily tasks – it’s time to reinstall the operating system.
Never visit a site when your virus protection warns you that the site contain malicious content. Even if you “think” you went to the right site. Sometimes hackers will mask a credit card company’s or banks website. The minute you log in you give your information to the attacker.
Always make sure your virus protection databases are up-to-date. Do this daily. Your virus protection should be set to auto update; however, you should always double check to make sure they are.
Note from the Author:
Be on the lookout for another one of my articles on Viruses. Hopefully I’ll be able to have that here on “The High Tech Society” soon.
As always, if you have suggestions for more articles, or comments about this one – please leave them below.