What Is Malware?

Malware is a common term in information security, but what exactly is it? In this article, we’ll explore where it comes from, what it is intended to do, and how to best protect you and your company from attacks.

Malware: A Definition

The word “malware” is a shortened version of the term “malicious software,” i.e., any type of program designed to do harm to a computer, server or network. Malware includes viruses (programs that “infect” other programs or documents and spread from computer to computer), worms (a more specific type of virus that duplicates itself) and Trojans (programs or documents that appear to be something legitimate but infect computers once they are opened).

Other types of malware include spyware, which can collect keystrokes or take control of a computer’s camera; adware, which displays unwanted ads and can download further malware; ransomware, which holds a computer or network hostage until a fee is paid; and rootkits, which can secretly take admin controls over a computer, server or network.

These programs are often created as an executable file, also known by its extension .exe, a type used by PCs running Windows software. Other malware programs are embedded in macros, such as those used by Word or Excel with extensions .doc and .xls and can infect other operating systems including OSX.

They often take advantage of a vulnerability in a program or operating system which hasn’t been updated to the latest version.

How Do I Catch Malware?

As varied as the types of malware are the delivery methods in which thieves attempt to get you to open it or visit a website. The most basic and still by far the most common is through good old-fashioned email communication. This tactic is known as phishing, where a hacker may send tens of (Read more...)

*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from InfoSec Resources authored by Stephen Moramarco. Read the original post at: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/infosecResources/~3/vsqeFuBAnqM/