Malware is an abbreviation for ‘malicious software.” It is used as an umbrella term to refer to worm, spyware, rootkit, trojan, virus and other threats to a computer system. These are basically software designed to damage a computer system(s) and/ or steal data. Yisrael Radai in the year 1990 coined the term malware, which was earlier referred to as a virus. Malware is infamous for breaking into computer systems, exhibit unwanted advertisements, and gather confidential information. Malware is referred to as computer contaminant in the field of law, and infecting systems with malware can lead to criminal offense.
Malware can vary from causing serious and harmful computer intrusion and damage (e.g. infecting and disrupting computers, stealing confidential data, stealing passwords etc) to simple annoyances (e.g. exhibiting unwanted pop-up advertisements). They don’t include software that causes accidental harm done due to some kind of deficiency. These are disguised often as non-malicious files. Due to the advancement of the technology, there are software like anti-virus and firewalls that help to protect the computers from these kinds of unwanted harmful attacks, which are even available free of cost. A computer that is often slow and has frequent pop-up ads, frequent crashes and so on can be considered to be afflicted with malware.
As the term suggests, these are malicious and harmful software that spreads without the user’s knowledge and damage a system. Fred Cohen coined the term in the year 1985. Viruses can self- replicate programs on a computer without the consent of the user and lead to harmfully infect the host computers. Some scenarios may include intruding the hard disk space, access private and confidential information like credit card numbers, passwords etc, spamming the user's email contacts, displaying humorous or offensive messages on the user’s screen etc.
Also known as advertising-supporting software, an Adaware is software that alters the settings of the browser and creates a desktop shortcut and projects pop-up advertisements when connected to the Internet. When the browser is hijacked, the user will be redirected to other advertising sites or different sites that collect information regarding the web usage of the user. These are generally created for computers but are also found in mobile phones.
Software that targets to collect information about an organization or a person without their consent or knowledge, to send or share the private and confidential information to a different entity is defined as a spyware. Spywares like ‘Keyloggers’ are installed by owners of a public computer, shared or corporate intentionally to monitor the users.
A back door is a malware that bypasses security mechanism of a computer to access a computer program. It is also a useful software, wherein programmers will install a back door so that in future they may be able to access the software for troubleshooting or other purposes. However, hackers use it to detect or install programs as a part of exploiting.
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