Understand the baffling technology words and phrases you hear every day.

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What is Malware?

Malware is the shortened word for malicious sofware. It is the umbrella term that describes any software designed to access or damage a programmable device, computer, server, or network. Malware is used primarily to gather information that cybercriminals turn into financial gain.

What Are the Different Types of Malware?


A virus infects files and then spreads by attaching itself to another program. Viruses are often delivered through an email attachment or file download.


A worm is similar to a virus, but it doesn't need another program to replicate itself. Worms have the ability to copy themselves from one machine to another usually by exploiting a security weakness in the operating system. They can travel across a network without human interaction. Worms are becoming rare, having been replaced by more sophisticated forms of malware.


Ransomware is one of the most profitable forms of malware. A victim's files are encrypted by an installed piece of malware and held hostage for a ransom payment. Bitcoin is the preferred method of payment.


Spyware is a software program installed on your computer to capture personal information and online browsing activities. This data is automatically uploaded to third-party servers without your knowledge. Spyware can also be used for legitimate surveillance and monitoring purposes such as law enforcement and internal company intelligence gathering.


Adware, short for advertising-supported software, is the intrusive display of unwanted ads in your browser. The primary purpose of adware is to track your browsing activity and display targeted ads based on your interests. While adware isn't quite a virus, it is harmful in its unauthorized data collection. Ads also can contain spyware that live on your computer and should be removed.

Trojan Horse

Like its Greek namesake, a Trojan horse uses deception to trick a user into running a program that contains malicious intent. Trojans are effective tools for hackers to deliver a malware attack because they can take on many forms.

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