Malware stands for malicious software, and it refers to any software program or code that is created to infiltrate and intentionally cause damage to computer systems and networks. Different types of malware serve various functions, such as profit, extortion, espionage, disabling activities, remote control, deletion and spreading fraudulent or unlawful information. In addition to being malicious, a key component of malware is that it accesses a system without permission, and typically, without the initial notice of the user.
Types of Malware
Malware is an umbrella term that references many different types of harmful software. Some common malware categories follow.
Keylogger: tracks and sends keyboard keystroke input, usually to steal sensitive information, like passwords, usernames, and financial data.
Ransomware: This malware takes over a system and encrypts the files or the hard drive, forcing the individual or company to pay a ransom in order to recover use of their system or access to their data.
Trojans: Deceptive software disguised as something helpful to encourage installation. Once installed, trojan horses are typically used to install other malware or to steal sensitive data.
Spyware: Observes and gathers the victim’s activities and reports to a designated party.
Worms: Somewhat like viruses, worms are self-replicating. They spread over a network, consuming system resources. Unlike viruses, they don't attach to files and are able to travel between different systems without any human interaction.
Adware: Causes excessive ad pop-ups on a computer, usually to profit from the advertising. This code often piggybacks on other software and tricks users into installation, which can leave systems more vulnerable to other malware.
Botnets: An attacker engineers networks of infected computers to work together for nefarious purposes.
Rootkit: This tech makes it difficult to locate and remove malware, by taking over the system's administrator privileges and hiding the program from detection.
Wipers: These programs completely wipe out all the data on the computer or network it infiltrates. This may be used for sabotage or to cover the attacker's tracks after they've used spyware to steal information.
Cryptojacking: Also called malicious cryptomining or drive-by mining, this malware uses computer resources to perform cryptocurrency mining.