Once upon a time, peeping Toms and burglars posed the primary threats to the security of your personal privacy and possessions. Contemporary high-tech advances have made these characters look like choir boys. Modern marvels of computer sophistry have spawned a myriad of malicious spin-offs.
As its name implies, malware is software designed with devious intentions in mind. In fact, the term denotes a specific type of software specially-designed for destruction, deception, and invasion. The implications of its systemic inculcation carry dire consequences of disastrous, devastating proportions.
Malware is manufactured in three main subtypes:
As the two best-known varieties of malware, viruses and worms both fall within this category. Viruses require user activation for the initiation of their pervasive invasions. Common examples are programs that trigger systemic infection upon opening email or Word documents. Conversely, worms wriggle into your computer from external networks via active self-propulsion.
This is the most common category of malware. Profit-based malware may be commercially produced to gather information for ultimate financial gain. Systems infected by profit-based malware may display unwanted pop-up advertisements, or experience erratic browser behavior.
Such irregularities can include revenue redirection to the spyware creator rather than the intended recipient. Other malicious uses could include covert keystroke capture of sensitive data such as credit card numbers.
This malware divests victims of various personal or proprietary data for pecuniary gain. Spam and phishing do not fall within the data-stealing designation, however. Devious designers of data-stealing malware may glean web-surfing habits or logon data for online banking or gaming sites.
The Defense Never Rests
The first line of defense against insidious infection is anti-malware software. Of late, the primary focus of computer security has shifted from spyware to malware.
Anti-malware programs operate in two main ways:
Real-time anti-malware programs protect against inadvertent malware installation or activation. This software provides continuous scanning of all incoming data. Any potential threats it detects are blocked from accessing your system.
Removal and Repair
Removal anti-malware programs detect and delete existing malware from your computer. It is by far the more popular of the two main anti-malware varieties.
Practice Safe Surfing
The Internet is the main source of malicious malware pervasion. It behooves you to be alert at all times when online. Avoid “free” software downloads from unknown sites. Keeping toolbars and screen savers to a minimum can maximize computer performance considerably. Be warned that most pop-ups that purportedly proclaim “errors” on your system are really disguises designed to induce inadvertent malware downloads.
Clean Up Your Act
The Microsoft Windows Vista operating system features Windows Defender, an anti-malware application. Likewise, Windows Firewall prevents suspicious access to your system and blocks potentially harmful website connections. Firewall can be configured for different security levels.
If these measures are insufficient or your system is not compatible with these packages, many legitimate free malware programs are available online. Consult reputable online sources for objective data on safe, legitimate anti-malware applications.
About the Author
Crissie C. Luckey, JD is a freelance writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers helps people determine if an online education is right for them and helps them understand which online courses and online universities they can choose from to reach their goals.