Malware is a blanket term which refers to all types of malicious software which attempt to covertly insert themself into your computers, and do something malicious. Now, malware is written to accomplish a variety of different things. Here are three of the most common uses for malware today, and what you can do to protect yourself from them.
Malware is used for advertising. This type of malware is less dangerous than other types, and usually is only a mild annoyance. You might be infected with this type of virus if you are frequently getting intrusive popup adds, or if you are being taken to strange websites unintentionally. With that said, sometimes these programs can be incredibly difficult to remove. Some of them will resist efforts to be found and removed, and can require professional assistance. Additionally, the presence of this type of malware strongly suggests that you could have been exposed to other, more dangerous programs. Therefore, if you suspect that your machine has adware on it, take steps to secure your machine immediately.
Another common type of malware is any type of spyware. This consists of programs which attempt to observe, collect information, steal your data, and remain undetected whilst doing so. These programs are often designed to run quietly in the background, while also spreading themselves through any available channels, such as removable media or internet connections. Common types of spyware include key-loggers, which record and transmit your keystrokes, and programs designed to scan text for potential credit card numbers or personal information. Dealing with this kind of malware is best done by keeping a careful watch on all of your accounts, while also not storing all of your information in one place.
A third type of common malware is ransom-ware. This type of malware doesn’t want to steal your data, it wants to hold it for ransom. In this scenario, the hackers do not have to sell your information or try to use your credit card for purchases, rather they encrypt all of your data, and make you pay to decrypt it. This relies on the difficulty of decrypting data without a key. The best way to avoid losing your data here is to back up your data, and retrieve it safely, after ensuring that the malware is gone. If you have a safe copy of your data, you can simply wipe the machine, destroying that copy of data, and the virus with it, and relying on your other copy to save your info.