Most people are familiar with the terms “computer virus,” what they don’t know is that a computer virus can be broadly categorized as malware, which is short for malicious software.
Malware is any program or file that is harmful to a computer or a network of computers, and they come in all shapes and sizes. In this piece, we shall be discussing what malware is, how it works, and how to remove it. Let’s dive into it.
As noted, malware is any program that works against your computer. The following is a list of the most common types of malware:
A computer virus is so named because it works the same way as its biological namesakes. It infects the computer and damages the function of critical components such as the RAM. Viruses spread from computer to computer, and they usually appear as executable files (.exe).
They will trick the user into believing that they are simple, normal computer programs only to wreak havoc later.
Worms are similar to viruses in that they infect other computers or computer networks by spreading from one device to another. It relies on the security failures of its target network to move around and to replicate. The main difference between worms and viruses is that viruses will almost definitely corrupt or modify files on a computer. In contrast, worms mostly affect the network, slowing it down, for instance.
A Trojan is a malware named after the famous Trojan War in which the Greeks were able to sneak soldiers by providing a giant wooden horse that had soldiers inside as a gift to the people of Troy.
Likewise, trojan malware acts as if it is a legitimate piece of software. But once it gets inside a computer, it creates backdoors that other malware or hackers can exploit.
Spyware is a specially designed malware that steals information from a computer, and discreetly sends it over the internet without the user knowing.
Spyware malware often works in the background and may steal, among other things, your passwords, credit card details, your browsing history, and much more.
Information collected with the help of malware is then used against the victim in blackmailing campaigns, persecution, identity theft, and so on.
Adware is an aggressive advertising piece of software that often attaches itself to a user’s browser. It is responsible for an endless barrage of ads that are really annoying. Not to mention, very hard to avoid because adware is really skillful at hiding.
Ransomware is a specially built malware with the capability of locking down a user’s computer or their files in exchange for something usually money. The most recent ransomware attack involved a crypto-worm called Wannacry. It devastated computer networks across the world.
Botnets are a series of infected computers that work together under the control of a hacker or some other entity. Botnets can launch coordinated attacks on other computers or networks.
How to Remove Malware
Now that we have looked at what malware is, it’s time that we consider various ways of handling the threats that they pose.
Perhaps the most effective way of removing malware infections is by using antimalware software. Antimalware software works by keeping constant vigilance on your computer files and the health of your computer components.
Whenever it finds a virus, a botnet, or something like that, it eliminates it, and if it can’t, it informs the computer user of an infection.
Other tools that work well against malware are PC repair software tools. PC repair software primarily checks the health of a computer system, cleans junk files, repair broken registry entries while also acting as a line of defense against malware infections.
Devices such as mobile phones and tablets have their own cleaning tools. They work the same way as computer repair software to ward off malware and clean junk files.
That said, the best way to protect your computer from malware is to prevent one from infecting your computer in the first place. The following are a few tips to help you with this:
Update the software on your computer
Updated software, especially Windows applications, usually have security patches that prevent against zero-day attacks. But you should not just update Windows software; every software package on your computer should be up-to-date.
Buy, don’t pirate software
Pirated software is not safe for use because it sometimes comes packed with malware. At the same time, there is no way of getting crucial updates from the software vendor if you are using a pirated version, a situation that leaves you vulnerable to attacks.
Always have an anti-virus program
This might sound cliché, but it’s perhaps the most useful piece of advice that we can give you regarding the overall health of your computer. You need to have an anti-virus program on your computer as it will keep your files safe from infections.
You don’t even need to buy one as most of the free versions are good. Microsoft already has a very efficient anti-virus program called Windows Defender which you can download for free. By contrast, macOS doesn’t have any security tools built-in. So make sure to download antivirus for Mac to keep your computer protected.
Free versions of commercial applications also guarantee some level of protection. When it comes to antimalware systems, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Be wary of free things
The internet is awash with scammers and their favorite tools are deals that are too good to be true. They will, for instance, send phishing campaigns through email that invite victims to click on links that when clicked, lead to a malware infection.
In short, don’t fall for the free “iPhone scams” or the unreasonably discounted goods, especially if the info gets to you via email.
Check the security details of the sites that you visit
Some sites are not secure and they will either infect your computer or steal sensitive information from you. To tell if a site is secure, start by checking the SSL certificate. If a site starts with HTTPS and not HTTP, it means that it is secure. The “S” in HTTPS stands for secure.
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