Basics about Malware, Viruses, Spyware

Keeping a PC safe and secure in today’s environment has become a very difficult task. Nevertheless, due to our increased usage of and dependence on the PC and the Internet, a lot of personal and confidential data has become digitized and keeping it immune has become an essential task. Hackers and data thieves have stepped up the game by using advanced methods to steal data from ignorant and innocent users.  There are several ways, anyone of which a hacker may employ, to steal data or compromise security of the systems. So how does a normal user gear up defend oneself on this battlefield?

Perhaps, the first step in this process is to know the various tools and methods a person may use against you. This article will try to explain the different terms like Viruses, Malware, etc.

Basics about Malware, Viruses, Spyware

Malware

Malware stands for Malicious Software. This word includes any software, code, etc. that has been designed to harm a PC, steal data or infiltrate a computer system without the user’s permission. Malware is an umbrella term and it consists of viruses, spyware, adware, phishing, and much more. To protect your PC is by and large a job of protecting it from any Malware.

Virus

Virus is probably the most common form of malware. It is defined as a program that harms a computer and copies itself. A Virus has a potential to delete data, make programs dysfunctional, or, in some cases, delete entire or some part of a hard drive. Viruses generally spread from one PC to another through removable drives, infected files, e-mail attachments, networks, etc.  Viruses are unique in that each virus has its own distinctive characteristics. Each virus operates in a different way and affects the system in a different manner.

Spyware

Spyware are programs that get installed on the hosts’ computer in disguise and collect and send bits of information about the hosts to remote systems without the consent of the user. Spyware tend to install themselves in disguise and monitor the hosts’ PC’s activities regarding Internet Usage, Credit Card details, sensitive data, etc. The collected information is then sent to a remote PC where the hacker receives this information. Most websites on the internet create and use cookies on the users’ system to keep track of their activities. However, spyware-websites also track their victim’s activities using these cookies. Cookie functionality can be disabled in a browsers’ settings tab.

Adware

Adware are software programs that automatically display advertisements or other forms of promotional content.  Some adware tend to open up a particular website on Windows start-up or browser start. Unlike other forms of malware, Adware do not cause much harm to the user but frequent intrusion by adware may annoy them. Adware may also affect the performance of a PC or the internet, making them sluggish and slow. Example of Adware can be toolbars that softwares install or change of our homepage.

Phishing

By definition, Phishing refers the fraudulent activity of acquiring usernames, password and other sensitive details from a user by posing as a website or email from a genuine company. Under this method, hackers send emails to innocent targets are create website that look exactly like , say a known bank’s website, and persuading them to enter their sensitive personal details like passwords, etc.  Phishing is illegal in most countries and is a criminal offence.

These were some of the ways you can be robbed of information or your system may be harmed in the digital world. I hope this article helps you in keeping yourself, your digital identity and information safe.

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