Understanding Malware and Keeping Yourself Safe Online

Many people have at one point in their usage of computers comes across malware. The general populace calls all malware viruses but that is not an accurate description. Malware is shortened from malicious software and as is more than viruses. Malware includes Trojans, spyware and worms.

The Genesis

Malware started out when bored programmers wrote gimmicky code to mess with their friends. They would write these scripts which would spread through networks just for the fun of playing with each other.

Suddenly some people realized that the malicious software could be developed from these gimmicky code and that is when the security of computer users around the world was threatened.

Common types

Some of the common types of malware include viruses and Trojans. A research carried out by internet security experts AV found that 78% of the malware in the world is Trojans.

Trojans are programs that are cleverly disguised as useful but which in reality are vessels for some harmful code. Trojans are therefore easy to fall for. The name comes from the myths of the ancient Greek where a Trojan horse was delivered as a gift but inside it carried the enemy soldiers through the gates of the city.

How Malware spreads

Malware is spread through three main ways. One is by sharing files either through a peer-to-peer arrangement or by simple USB drives. The malware quickly hides within files being transferred and therefore spreads through networks.

The second way through which malware is spread is through malicious links. These are mostly placed emails of multimedia content. Sometimes links to a malicious software are named differently to entice users to click. The most common way through which this spreads is where a website purports to offer a free download of something but the links supplied are infected.

The third way through which malware is spread is through email attachments. These can include zipped files disguised as useful material of offers that are in reality fake. Many viruses are for example spread through email attachments.

How to stay safe

There are several steps through which users can avoid infection of their devices by malware. One is by making sure that they update the operating system on their device as soon as updates are available. That allows for the OS to patch errors and vulnerabilities that the developers might have found.

The other step is to make sure that there is anti-malware software installed in the device. That way malicious software will be detected fast and eliminated. The other way is to stay away from websites which purport to offer free things. That way the user reduces the chances of clicking on an infected link.

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