There are so many forms of malware that exist today that any serious computer user must be knowledgeable about them. And although there are means of getting rid of them from your PC such as free antivirus programs and paid anti-malware software, it is always good to know how to recognize different kinds of malware and how to deal with them.
A virus is any self-multiplying software or bit of source code that can clone itself and be integrated into a host computer system, or attempts to replicate itself into the program using harmless terms such as "repair tool." A computer virus is only able to gain access to other computers by transference or delivery by an unsuspecting computer user, or be ported through a handy storage device from an infected PC to a clean one. If it gets the chance to latch on into a computer's network-linked drive, then all other users who get a copy of the infected file or document sent to them will be tainted by it as well. Capable free antivirus solutions should be able to prevent such kinds of intrusions from happening.
A computer worm can be defined as a self-multiplying bit of source code that employs a network of linked computers to pass out duplicates to other existing network links. It differs from a virus in that it enables itself to multiply without getting any active support from the computer user and that it does not need to piggyback unto a host file or program. A worm can be made to import a "payload" or source code that can execute a predetermined task. This "payload" will have the worm do things like send out spurious documents via the compromised email system; the worm incorporates attached copies of its own into these emails and spreads when an unsuspecting computer user opens the message, thus causing the worm to be downloaded into his or her PC.
Malware is a term used to define any type of pernicious software program or source code that has been originally designed to do any of these types of actions; namely, secretly gain access to a computer without the user's knowledge, funnel away any pertinent personal data that hackers can use and sell including Social Security numbers, system access numbers, credit card numbers and birth dates, make remote entry or rear access points to let hackers have free rein into the computer system, and total deletion of important system information, denigration of the OS files, or both. Again, an effective antivirus program can easily deal with such issues. The term "malware" is mostly employed to describe worms, spyware, Trojan horses, viruses, and some types of adware.
Spyware refers to rogue programs that "harvest" crucial data ranging from the websites that the computer user prefers and goes most often, email accounts and passwords, user and account names up to more personal information such as credit card numbers. Spyware gain entry to a computer without the user's consent and can covertly send out the "harvested" information using the Internet to interested parties such as hackers.
Adware, short for "advertising-supported software," are types of malicious programs that show, initiate, or put in ads into either the desktop of the PC or its web browser application as part of a downloaded program. You can have them without charge - if you would like to see advertising windows that pop up haphazardly and repeatedly on your PC offering you various products that you have no use whatsoever. And like spyware, adware has the capability to siphon information on your Internet usage and browsing preferences to arrange for the right type of advertisements to be sent to you. Although this makes them similar to spyware, adware are meant purposely to send unwanted advertisements to your computer.
A Trojan horse, finally, is software that when ported and run on an uninfected PC will look like it is executing some needed task but is actually opening doors into which other users can gain entry into the user's PC system. Hackers usually employ Trojan horses to remotely subvert a computer and then do whatever he likes with it. These may include information purloining, keystroke recording, uploading or downloading programs or files, watching the host computer's screen, and causing the host computer system to fail.
To save yourself the trouble of dealing with these kinds of malware, do follow these steps. Refrain from unreliable or undocumented programs that you procured from the Internet and use only those that are trustworthy, be wary when you employ file sharing applications like Limewire or torrent websites to download programs or files, never open any attached file from an email from someone you do not know, use an effective paid or free antivirus or anti-spyware product to check on your computer once in a week and have it updated currently.
Now that you have learned of the types of malware and the ways which you can deal with them, you are more prepared to handle their intrusions in the future. A good free antivirus or anti-spyware program can do the work for you, but sometimes it does pay to be prudent by finding ways to bar them altogether.