What are malware? How can I protect my PCs and mobile devices from it?

What is malware? This word stands for ‘malicious software‘, i.e. any kind of software that is used to disrupt functioning of a PC or a mobile device, steal sensitive information, access computer systems, or show unwanted ads. Before 1990, when  Yisrael Radai offered the term ‘malware’, all malicious software was called just ‘viruses’. Among other ways, malware propagates by means of fragments  of parasitic software which attach themselves to existing executable code. Such a fragment can well be machine code that is inserted into, say, a system program, an application, a utility, or the code used for a computer system boot. It is a malicious intent that is a characteristic of malware: this kind of software always acts against the requirements of infected the PC user, that is why, if software causes harm unintentionally, due to a flaw, for example, it is not malware.

Malware may be deeply hidden in the system; it is often created for stealing data or spying on PC users without their knowledge, for a long period of time (like Regin); also, malware may be designed to disrupt computer systems for the purpose of sabotage (like Stuxnet), or to extort money from the victims (CryptoLocker). Thus, the term ‘malware’ is a so-called umbrella term, because this word stands for a great variety of hostile or intrusive software. Malware includes viruses, Trojan horses, worms, ransomware, scareware, adware, spyware, dialers and plenty of other programs. Malware can be present in the form of active content, scripts, executable code, etc.  Quite often, malware is embedded in non-malicious files or disguised as such (so-called Trojans). In 2011, most of the active malware instances ere Trojans and worms, not viruses.

Malware may appear as Rootkits, Viruses, Backdoors, Trojan horses, etc. Since malware infections are becoming more and more common, public attention shifts from anti-viruses and anti-spyware protection to anti-malware, and numerous programs have been developed to protect PCs specifically from malware.

The goal of software products like firewalls, anti-keyloggers, anti-virus (AntiVirus), anti-Trojans, anti-malware (AntiMalware), etc. is to protect the computer against malicious activity of software as well as and to help the user recover from such attacks.

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