Malware, short for malicious software, is any software used to disrupt computer operation.
Malware” is a term for any software that gets installed on your machine and performs unwanted tasks, often for some third party’s benefit. Malware programs can range from being simple annoyances (pop-up advertising) to causing serious computer invasion and damage (e.g., stealing passwords and data or infecting other machines on the network). Additionally, some malware programs are designed to transmit information about your Web-browsing habits to advertisers or other third party interests, unbeknownst to you.
Types of malware:
- Virus – Software that can replicate itself and spread to other computers or are programmed to damage a computer by deleting files, reformatting the hard disk, or using up computer memory.
- Adware – Software that is financially supported (or financially supports another program) by displaying ads when you’re connected to the Internet.
- Spyware – Software that surreptitiously gathers information and transmits it to interested parties. Types of information that is gathered includes the Websites visited, browser and system information, and your computer IP address.
- Browser hijacking software – Advertising software that modifies your browser settings (e.g., default home page, search bars, toolbars), creates desktop shortcuts, and displays intermittent advertising pop-ups. Once a browser is hijacked, the software may also redirect links to other sites that advertise, or sites that collect Web usage information.