Blog: What is Malware?

Computers are a great addition to our lives. They are incredible and make life easy. But as with most things in human history, it can also be a weapon in the hands of some unscrupulous people. There are several ways these people attack our computers and by extension our lives. You’ve probably heard the term malware before and didn’t understand what it meant. And like most people have simply been asking the obvious question “what is Malware?” It’s time to find out and also know what they do.

Malware is a term used to describe the collection of every software, code or program designed to steal or alter data on a PC, smartphone, tablet etc or cause problems of any kind for the owners of these devices by harming the device. It’s an umbrella term for all problem causing programs. The term itself stands for malicious software.

Any phone or computer is made up of both physical material, hardware, that you can feel and the programs in that physical material. These programs are the things that actually carry out whatever function we want the phone to perform for us. Malware basically targets these programs, also called software. A

Malware is itself software (codes, programs) designed to harm or alter the functioning of other software. They are intentionally designed by programmers to cause damage to computers, computer networks or servers. They are originally not a part of the computer or computer network. They are introduced (uploaded) into these targets and upon introduction perform the function for which they were created.

To further understand what malware is, their functions should be considered. Not all malware perform the same function so they are usually categorized by their functions. Some of these categories include:

  1. Viruses: This is perhaps, the most commonly used term among users. But not every malware is a virus either. They act like biological viruses hence the name. When introduced, they cling to files or folders and begin infecting as much as they can. The result of this virus attack includes deleted or corrupted files and folders and damage to the core functionality of a system.
  2. Trojans are malware that is disguised as or engineered into legitimate software. They usually open up ‘backdoors’ into your system leaving you vulnerable to attacks from other malware.
  3. Spyware: simply put, these are programs design to spy on you, and steal valuable data or information from you. This could be anything from browsing habit to credit card numbers and passwords.
  4. Worms: These are engineered to attack all kinds of networks with the use of network interfaces. When one machine is infected, it is used to infect the next machine and so on.
  5. Ransomware: This is a program that is used by attackers to lock down a person’s computer or even erase data from the computer except a ransom is paid hence the name, ransomware.

There are other categories of malware besides these mentioned but they are all malicious software (programs, codes etc) purposely engineered to cause some kind of damage. This may range from very little to very serious.