What is Malware?

Historically, computer techies have tried to identify security related problems on computers with nice neat little descriptions like Virus, trojans, worms, spyware, adware etc etc. However, the general trend is to group all security related threats as Malware – basically from the word Malevolent This is a general term for: –

a. Anything installed on your computer that is a potential security risk
b. Anything installed on your computer that is a known security risk.
c. Anything not yet installed on your computer that is a potential or known security risk.

For the paranoid like myself, even the ubiquitous “cookie” is malware although I readily admit that some cookies are harmless and do in fact help when visiting sites like on-line banking etc. However, in the main there are millions of websites that work quite happily without the use of cookies – something to think about!

Not all Malware is malicious but quite often it doesn’t have any benefit to you or your PC so I say get rid of it!

You can maybe think of Malware as being a weed in your beautifully manicured lawn. Not all weeds are harmful but they can spoil the lawn’s appearance and if not removed can spread and make your lawn just a patch of grass! Some weeds are more insidious in that they kill off the grass to enable them to thrive.

In the case of Malware on PCs, these “weeds” can do a lot of harm or some cases they just slow down your PC. Some Malware just sits in the background recording keystrokes (key loggers) and then sends this info to somewhere on the Internet. Some Malware just sits there waiting for instructions and when triggered your PC becomes a “Zombie” and can be used along with other similarly compromised PCs to create havoc and mayhem to other PCs on the Internet.

You might say, I’ve never had a Virus and I don’t visit “dodgy sites”. I would say that if you haven’t got any decent Anti-virus software installed then what you should be saying is “I’ve never had a virus that I know about”. You don’t need to visit dodgy websites to get “infected”. There are millions of websites that have been compromised and all it takes is for you to hover over a hidden pixel and you invoke a download to your PC and you won’t know about it unless you have up-to-date anti-virus / anti-malware software installed.

If you want a more info on Malware, have a look at a really good explanation on Wiki.

Stay alert, keep safe.