Malware is software that is written for a specific purpose – that is of intentionally harming you (by stealing or extorting money off you), spying on you to obtain information or harming your computer’s operation. The aim of writers of this form of software (called cybercriminals) is usually for monetary gain or to cause as much damage as possible to your computer or network.
To be more concise, malware is a form of software that is installed without authorisation on your computer and performs unwanted tasks on your machine, most often for a third party’s gain.
Writing malware was originally started by teenage geeks designing pranks and experimenting. Now malware is largely in the hands of professional criminals and used for vandalism, destruction as well as (mostly) for profit generation.
Some cybercriminals write malware software to obtain your banking details or passwords etc with the aim being to extract money from your bank account or shop with your credit card or to sell this information on to a third party. Other cybercriminals write tracking malware used to obtain statistics on your web browsing behaviour for advertisers. Still, other cybercriminals write malware purely for fun – (theirs not yours) with the aim being to cause havoc on your computer. Malware is now also being written to target your mobile phone and other portable devices.
The word “malware” is short for the term “malicious software” and if a form of this malicious software ends up on your computer, the term then used is that your machine has a ”malware infection” or has become “infected by malware”. The word “infected” is quite apt as with a malware infection your computer effectively becomes ‘sick or ill’ in that it is no longer able to perform the way that it should. This is because parts of the software on your machine have been made defective or altered by the malware or the malware itself makes your computer “sick” and perform in strange ways – or even refuse to boot.
Types of Malware
Generally, malware is any kind of unwanted and unauthorised software, often hidden in other programs, that causes disruption to computer operation or gathers personal information. The names of types of malware give you a feel for what is meant by malicious software. Malware includes:
Viruses – called viruses as they spread by making copies of themselves. The intent of viruses is to damage your computer by various means such as reformatting the hard disk, deleting files or using up the computer memory.
Time bombs – malware that is written to be activated at a specific date or time causing damage to your computer.
Adware – forced advertising; software is written to display adverts when you are connected to the internet
Spyware – stealing of sensitive information including credit card numbers and obtaining statistics of Browser and internet shopper behaviour
Scareware – scam software designed to trick people into buying and downloading potentially dangerous software such as fake anti-virus software
Ransomware – money extortion, malware that freezes your computer and demands monetary payment to return it to normal operation
Browser hijacking software – software that changes your browser settings such as your home page, toolbars etc, it can also create desktop shortcuts etc.
Signs of a Malware Infection
Signs of a malware infection include:-
Frequent and very annoying advertising pop-ups.
A change in your browser or a new browser appears
When surfing the net your computer opens websites without your authorisation or request
A computer becomes frozen with a threatening message displayed
Unexpected computer crashes
Your computer slows down considerably
Too much hard drive activity even when you are not using the machine
Programs open themselves or are missing
Posts that you did not write suddenly appear on your Facebook page or other social media pages.
Your emails aren’t sent or emails are sent from your machine without your knowledge
When people ask what is malware they are really asking is:-
- What harm can malware do?
- How can I avoid a malware infection?
- What do I do if my computer becomes infected by malware?
- Am I safe from malware?
Click on the questions above to find the answers…
We hope this article has answered your question as to “What is Malware Exactly?” if you have any more questions, please contact us at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service Ph 3397 1215 or 0409 974707
Information on our malware removal service.