It is actually short for “malicious software”, and is exactly what it sounds like. It is a software which is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain authorised access to a computer system, as well as stealing, encrypting and deleting sensitive data, and monitoring users’ computer activity without their permission.
They come in the forms of viruses, worms, trojan horses, spywares and ransomwares.
Virus: the most common type of malware, is a malicious program that can execute itself and is able to spread by infecting other programs or files. (Just like virus infections which affect our bodies.)
Worms: can replicate itself without a host program; they spread to other computers using computer networks
Trojan horse: a malicious program that appears as a legitimate program; once activated after installation, can hack into your system
Spyware: a kind of malware that is designed to collect information and data on users and observe their activity without your knowledge.
After knowing all of this, you should know that having your webcam hacked and someone using it to watch your every move is not just the plot of thriller movies – it is a very real risk and it can potentially happen to anyone.
So how do you actually identify malwares?
Most people have no idea that malware has been installed until their computers start acting funny. For example, there might be strange ads or pop-up windows. What is worrying is that you are not even surfing the web when you see them. You may also experience unwanted changes to your browser and your computer might be functioning slower. Ads might pop up a few seconds after a web page is done loading. These ads will often contain inappropriate content and are difficult to close. If you suspect your computer has malware installed, disconnect it from the Internet and turn it off immediately. Take it to a professional computer repair service immediately; they are trained to handle these breaches.
How did you get yourself into it?
You can unintentionally install Malware by clicking on a link that is hidden or masked by another software. This often happens when users download content from untrustworthy sources. Seemingly harmless downloads, like screen savers, toolbars, and torrents, are likely the culprits.
How do you avoid it? Read this article.
What is phishing?
In this digital age, we all know that phishing is not the millennial way of spelling fishing. This is referred to someone trying to steal your password and information by directing you to a fake login page.
Imagine you receive an email, from a legitimate-looking source, with proper signature and professional language and the works. It might even seemingly be from a reputable entity or person. They might have sent you certain links or attachments, urging you to check them out. They might be information on a new credit card or even products and services which are very appealing. You click on one of those links or attachment and that’s how you get phished.
One way to avoid this is to double check that links or HTML files clients send you are for valid websites. Make sure the URL is correct, and never give out your personal information.
Again, if compromised, do take your computer to a computer repair service. More often than not, you are not well-equipped enough to deal with it yourself.