What is malware? Much like adware or spyware, the term refers to a class of insidious computer applications. It is a particular type of virus which is used as a tool to gain access to a computer and force it to perform an unauthorized function.
Guarding against malware attacks is becoming an increasingly complex process. In the 90’s, an experienced user could find and follow instructions for scrubbing away viruses and deleting bots from sub-folders. Today, malware is advanced past those measures a hundred times over. Malicious programs are harder to detect than ever. These applications are better hidden in insidious hidden directory folders. Using Trojan horse methodologies, they immediately create their own web portals and ravage your PC or cloud data for means for reproducing.
Some viruses operate using a combination of these methods.
It is easier and easier than ever to make a misstep and allow a virus to infect a terminal or penetrate your network security. Social engineering is an insidious cyber-crime tactic which produces corrupt files which appear legit. Although we instantly disregard unsolicited mail, we are somewhat likely to open a hand-addressed envelope even from an unknown source. Cyber-criminals exploit this tendency creating pages and emails containing threats which look less and less like junk every day. Malicious files are named conventional names like “ContactList.txt” and emails are given emotional subject lines like, “Are you mad at me?” Scripts can cull familiar buzzwords from your files and web traffic.
Sometimes things get personal. When your login credentials are part of cookies stored by a website, spyware can capture the password and username. Hackers can then access your account. Some may attempt to use your same login credentials on other accounts, as many people use the same username/password combination for multiple accounts. If your username happens to be an email account, that address may be added to marketing lists.
Most attacks are perpetrated by a person or group who has something to gain. Criminals are able to steal personal data and hijack computers. It is possible for email spammers to use the processors on your computer to send more spam. Financial gain is a motivation of many; however, some people choose to invade others’ privacy for the most horrifying reasons.
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