What Is Malware and What Can It Do?

What Is Malware and What Can It Do?

Malware, a shortened combination of the words malicious and software, is a catch-all term for any sort of software designed with malicious intent. Malware is sometimes called badware and is often used synonymously with many of the common types of malware, listed below. In legal documents, malware is sometimes referred to as computer contamination so if you ever see that, it's just a fancy way of saying malware. Malicious intent is often theft of your private information or the creation of a backdoor to your computer giving someone access to it, its resources, and its data, without your permission. However, software that does anything that it didn't tell you it was going to do could be considered malware.

Common Types of Malware

Though some of these terms can be used to describe software with a legitimate, non-malicious intent, malware is generally understood to exist in one or more of the following forms:


  1. Viruses infect program files and/or personal files.
  2. Spyware collects personal information.
  3. A worm is malware that can replicate and spread itself across a network.
  4. A Trojan horse looks, and may even operate, as a legitimate program.
  5. Browser hijacker is malware that modifies your web browser. .
  6. Rootkit grants administrative rights for malicious intent.
  7. Malvertising is malware that uses legitimate online advertising to spread malicious software.
  8. There are other types of programs, or parts of programs, that could be considered malicious due to the simple fact that they carry a malicious agenda, but the ones listed above are so common that they get their own categories..
  9. Some types of adware, the term for advertisement-supported software, are considered malware but usually only when those advertisements are designed to trick users into downloading other more malicious software.

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