Viruses and attacks from hackers are a potential threat to all computer users. Learn about how they work and how to protect your computer and your personal information from unwelcome visitors.
What is 'malware'?
Malware or ‘Malicious Software’ is software designed to secretly access a computer system without the user's consent. Types of malware include computer viruses, worms, trojan, spyware and other malicious or unwanted software.
A computer virus is a software program that can copy itself and infect a computer. Viruses can spread from one computer to another when a user sends it over a network or the Internet, or carries it on a CD, DVD or USB drive.
A computer worm is a malicious program that differs from a virus in that it can spread automatically over networks without the intention of users. They are designed to replicate and transmit by themselves, allowing them to spread very quickly. Worms cause long delays in downloading and viewing web pages, as they often arrive in large volumes, blocking the networks.
A Trojan is a form of malware which automatically installs a program onto the computer. Hackers then use the program to gain control of a user’s computer.
Trojans are often quietly bundled with software or files a user genuinely wishes to download or install. Trojans are often installed from:
Spyware is software that displays advertisements or tracks personal or sensitive information, accessing a computer system when installing a new program (often downloaded from the internet). Spyware secretly gathers information about the user and can make changes to the configuration of a computer, causing it to slow down or crash. These programs can also change a Web browser's home page or search page.
Malware can infect a computer via:
The most effective way to protect yourself from malware attacks is to: