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Malicious Software (Malware)

Definition - What does Malicious Software (Malware) mean?

Malicious software, commonly known as malware, is any software that brings harm to a computer system. Malware can be in the form of worms, viruses, trojans, spyware, adware and rootkits, etc., which steal protected data, delete documents or add software not approved by a user.

Techopedia explains Malicious Software (Malware)

Malware is software designed to cause harm to a computer and user. Some forms of malware “spy” on user Internet traffic. Examples include spyware and adware. Spyware monitors a user’s location and if enabled, it can capture sensitive information, e.g., credit card numbers, promoting identity theft. Adware also acquires user information, which is shared with advertisers and then integrated with unwanted, triggered pop-up ads.

Worms and viruses behave differently, as they can quickly proliferate and undermine an entire computer system. They also may perform unsavory activities from a user’s computer without the user’s knowledge. In the wake of a virus or worm, a computer system can experience significant damage.

Anti-malware should determine if there are threats by scanning a computer and removing them, if found. Prevention is better than corrective action after infection. Although anti-virus programs should be continually enabled and updated, certain types of threats, like spyware, often make their way into a computer system.

At all times, a firewall should be in place for additional security. Multiple, compatible protective sources are encouraged as additional insurance against malware.

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