There are a whole lot of types of malware out there. And understanding the types of malware, how they attack, and signs that they might be present are all valuable tools in your arsenal when looking to use computer systems safely. Therefore, I will briefly go over several different types of malware, to help you understand your threats
- Viruses are perhaps the most well-known type of malware, and some users often refer to all types of malware as viruses. Viruses are pieces of code which attach themselves to other programs. Once the program is run, the virus will be activated, and can do all manner of nefarious things. They will often copy themselves and seek to infect other areas, as well as harboring the potential to steal information and destroy function.
- Worms are also malicious pieces of code which can spread themselves. However, worms do not require to be attached to a host program, and can exist on their own. These programs also can carry out a wide range of tasks such as espionage or removal of security obstacles.
- Trojan horses. Trojans are pieces of code which masquerade as a harmless piece of software. They will be designed to appear as if they are performing an innocuous function, but will contain code which allows them to compromise your machine, install other malware, or steal your information. These can be particularly dangerous and adept at getting into systems.
- Rootkits are pieces of malware that can be particularly difficult to detect or remove. They often hide deep within a system and are designed to covertly hijack functions and systems that should only be able to be changed by an authorized user. These have become popular lately as a method for taking over computers and spying on the users. Removal typically requires a clean reset of the drive upon which the rootkit is installed.
- Although it can be very annoying, adware is typically one of the less dangerous types of malware out there. This type of software only serves to present ads to the users of a computer, often in an obnoxious or intrusive fashion. However, infection by adware can be a strong sign that other malware might be present.
- While all types of malware can serve as spyware, there are several distinct types of spyware which can be used to observe a user or steal their information. Keyloggers, for example, will track every keystroke made by a machine, and then transfer it to a third party, potentially exposing messages and login credentials.