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Types of Malware and How they Affect Your Computer

All of the types of malware

I’m sure you’ve heard the terms ‘malware’ or ‘virus’ and I bet you’ve said “my computer has a bug”!

There is a whole raft of different types of malware that may play havoc with your PC. From the eponymous ‘virus’ to the slightly lesser-known rootkit.

We all know Malware is bad for your computer but what does it actually do? We all know we should have anti-malware software (or virus protection which is more widely known as!) on our computers but what is it protecting us from?

Malware (also known as malicious software) is software designed to corrupt your computer programs and performance. There is a myriad of different types of malware, these can all affect your computer’s programming and performance in a variety of ways. The different malware which can affect your computer includes adware, ransomware, spyware as well as bugs.

Signs to indicate your computer may be corrupted by one of the many types of malware – if you are struggling with any of these types of issues contacting an IT professional like us at OXPC!

  • Slowed performance
  • Network Connection Errors
  • Crashing/ freezing
  • Spam email creation
  • Programs initiating or closing on their own
  • Pop-up ads

 

Some information on the different types of Malware and how they can affect your computer.

Adware

This is also known as advertising-supported software that displays pop-ups. A common adware program likely redirects your browser searches to look-alike web pages that contain other product promotions or with the aim to capture your data or financial information.

 

Bug

These create problems in programs source code which impact the use of the program and in severe cases may cause system crashing and loss of data.

Hybrids and Exotic Malware

Most malware is a combination of traditional malicious programs, often including parts of Trojans and worms and occasionally a virus. Many of today's malware programs are considered rootkits or stealth programs. Essentially, malware programs attempt to modify the underlying operating system to take ultimate control and hide from antimalware programs.

Fileless malware

It's not technically a whole different category of malware, more of a description of how they exploit and persevere themselves. Traditional malware travels and infects new systems using the file system. Fileless malware, which today comprises over 50 percent of all malware, instead of using files they exploit and spread in memory only or using other “non-file” items like registry keys, APIs or scheduled tasks.

Malvertising

Not to be confused with adware (above) Malvertising is the use of legitimate adverts or ad networks to covertly deliver malware to unsuspecting users’ computers. For example, a cybercriminal might pay to place an ad on a legitimate website. When a user clicks on the ad, code in the ad either redirect them to a malicious website, or installs malware on their computer. New York Times, Spotify, and the London Stock Exchange have been victims of malicious ads, putting their users in jeopardy.

Ransomware

Malware programs that encrypt your data and hold it hostage, as the name suggests, until you have paid the cryptocurrency ‘ransom’ pay off has been received. A huge percentage of the malware attacks which have crippled institutions over the last few years have been ransomware attacks and the percentage is still growing. Ransomware has been known to bring companies, the NHS, and government departments to their knees.

Most ransomware programs are Trojans (see below), which means they are spread by social engineering. Once executed, most look for and encrypt users’ files within a few minutes, However, By watching the user for a few hours, more sophisticated ransomware waits before setting off the encryption routine; the malware can figure out exactly how much ransom the victim can afford to pay and it may also be able to delete or encrypt other supposedly “safe” backups as part of the program.

Spyware

With spyware hackers are able to watch what you are doing on your computer without your knowledge. It is most often used by people who are keeping track of the computer activities of loved ones – often children.

However, when used by criminals in targeted attacks, spyware to log the keystrokes, therefore, giving access to passwords.  A larger concern – than the spyware itself - should be the mechanism the spyware uses to exploit the computer or user.

Virus

A computer virus is what most people would call any type of malware program, most malware programs aren't actually viruses. A true computer “virus” modifies legitimate files in such a way that when a victim's file is executed, the virus is then executed.

Actual “viruses” are relatively rare, comprising less than 10 percent of all malware which is advantageous given that makes them particularly hard to remove because the malware must be executed from the legitimate program in which it's embedded.

Worms

This can infect a network of devices through network interfaces. The email brought them into fashion around the millennium and for nearly a decade we were besieged by malicious worms that arrived in email message attachments. Once the first person had opened a wormed email and the entire network would be infected rapidly thereafter.

Trojans

Trojan or Trojan Horse malware has become the weapon of choice for hackers. Trojans appear as legitimate programs but contain malicious instructions. A Trojan must be opened/ executed by the user before its able to do its work.

Trojans usually arrive via email or downloaded when they visit infected websites. The most popular Trojan is a bogus antivirus program; which pops up, claims your PC has infected files, the popup will encourage you to run the bogus antivirus program which installs the Trojan.

Rootkit

A rootkit allows someone to gain and maintain control over a computer without the computer user knowing about it. Once a rootkit has been installed, the controller of the malware could remotely execute files and change system configurations on the host PC.

A rootkit on an infected computer can also access log files and spy on the user's usage, passwords, and account information.

All of these types of malware can compromise the productivity of your computer, as well as corrupting online security. Always be cautious when downloading new files and programs, always ensure they’re from legitimate sources. You should also protect your PC’s with antivirus malware detection software.

At OXPC we are experts in PC repair and malware removal. Please contact our team for more.