We have clients in our offices all the time thinking they have a virus on their computer. However, like a human cold, there are different classifications of “viruses” your computer can catch. In today’s post, we break down the various infections that threaten your computer.
Malware is short for malicious software. Many things that people call a ‘virus’ is malware. Malware is any harmful software that infects your computer. A virus falls underneath the malware umbrella. Below are the different kinds of malware infections floating out on the web.
We will start with viruses. A virus is a variant of malware that copies itself by infecting other files. This is identical to how a biological virus replicates itself by infecting cells to reproduce itself. Viruses are capable of many different things. For example, it could steal your passwords or display advertisements.
Once infected, a virus will spread through the files or programs installed on a computer. If a flash drive is inserted into an infected computer, the virus will spread to the flash drive files. This is why most offices will not allow outside flash drives to be used on the work premises.
Similar to a virus in function, the main difference between a virus and a worm is the way it spreads. A worm removes the human element in spreading and will work through a computer network on its own. Computers have better firewalls preventing worms from spreading. However, worms can spread to multiple computers by sending out mass emails to an affected user’s address book.
Like the Trojan Horse in ancient times, this malware masks itself as a legitimate program. Once the infected program is downloaded and installed, the Trojan gets to work in the background. It will allow backdoor access to your computer and open the floodgates for other malware types to infect your computer.
Spyware allows the software to monitor your activity without your knowledge. It records a multitude of data, depending on the type of spyware. This includes keystroke loggers, web browsing activity, and others. Collected data is used to compromise your accounts or can be sold to advertisers to make money. Spyware doesn’t have to be a stand-alone infection; other malware types might have a spyware component.
Adware is a common companion of spyware. It is defined as any program that displays advertisements on your computer. Legitimate sites will display ads along the tops or sides of their content; this is how the website generates money. Adware is different because it will cause advertisements to popup when you aren’t doing anything else.
Keyloggers are a type of malware that operates in the background, quietly recording every keystroke entered into the computer. This includes usernames, passwords, credit card information, and other data. Once logged, the keystrokes are sent to a server for sorting.
Bot Or Botnet
A botnet is a network of computers that are under one user’s control. Once infected, the computer will connect to a single server and await instructions. For example, the network of computers might receive a command to start a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Every computer in the network will bombard a specific website with requests causing it to be unresponsive or crash.
Ransomware is a newer form of malware but can be the worst kind of infection. Once installed, it holds your computer and files hostage until you pay for their release. If you do not have backups, your files will be inaccessible unless you pay. The goal of this attack is a quick payday. However, they result in catastrophic damage if you don’t pay or have backups.
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