Malware is an umbrella term that refers to various types of malicious software such as viruses, worms and Trojans. Malware are harmful codes designed to infect computers primarily through the internet. Depending on the type, malware can cause a range of problems. Some are designed to steal your information, including credit card and other personal information. Some trick you into paying for nonexistent software, and others may simply bog down and hamper your computer’s performance. Your computer may get infected with malware in different ways. The most common way malware infects computers is through the internet.
There are hundreds of thousands of disreputable websites that claim to have identified ‘threats’ on your computer. These messages are actually generated to infect your computer. You can protect yourself from malware infections by avoiding these dubious websites that offer free ‘antivirus’ programs. Do not click on fake messages and virus alerts. The messages themselves are designed to infect your computer with malware, initiated by cybercriminals to compromise your online security. A confirmed method of enhancing your online security is to install a proven security program from a reputable source.
Spyware refers to malicious programs that infect computers with the sole aim of relaying your private information to some other party, usually, back to the same people who deploy these programs. Spyware collects information without the knowledge or consent of the user, and can be very difficult to detect.
Spyware may log your activities on the internet, such as sites visited, and may record search terms and download history. The recorded information is then sent to a server. Some spyware are designed to snoop on your hard drive, gather private information such as documents and files, and collect email addresses and phone numbers. The most dangerous variants are able to record your browser history with login names and passwords for online bank accounts and credit card information.
Adware are programs that, depending on your browsing preferences and the sites you visit, display web advertisements on a computer screen. Pop-ups are the most common type, although there are pop-unders, ads embedded within programs, ads placed on sites, and a host of other ways. Many pop-ups cannot be stopped by pop-up blockers, and may appear even when your browser is not open or when you are not online. Adware by itself not harmful, but has the potential to be used questionably, such as when they are integrated with spyware.