Lots of massive, technical terms get tossed around when it comes to computer security, and naturally, many of them can be a bit hard to explain, so they get used incorrectly. Well, one of the most (if not the most) frequent of these misused terms would be your normal, everyday computer virus. In its most technically-correct meaning, a virus is a malicious code that spreads by infecting existing files, similar to how a virus infects living cells (hence how it obtained its name).
Typically, when someone gets a virus on their computer, what they’re really referring to is malware. Malware, or “malicious software” is the blanketing umbrella term that houses all the funky “viruses” and “virus” subsets such as worms, Trojans, rootkits, spyware, and adware that you currently know. So really, a virus itself is a form of malware. In the list below, we clear up the confusion by explaining what Trojans, viruses, and worms are and how they’re different from one another.
Virus: This is a form of malware that spreads across your computer once it has been run. Unlike other types of malware, it can either attach itself to a good file on your computer, or can search out other machines to infect. Mostly common throughout the 1990s, viruses are no longer as common as new forms of malware are more sophisticated and advanced.
Worm: Think of inchworms rather than parasitic worms. This type of malware “inches” itself from one machine to the next, rather than latching onto its original host. Commonly spread by email and IM attachments, worms look for a way to penetrate your firewall, infect your computer, and then find a way to move onto another machine.
Spyware: Unlike the previous two malwares, spyware is in a league of it’s own. Rather than infecting your computer and attacking it – spyware penetrates your computer so that it can attack you. Spyware runs in the background of your computer, collecting data such as passwords, credit card details, important files, emails, etc. Which then gets used against you.
Trojans: Remember the story of the Trojan horse that ended up being full of guys with spears? Well, hence the name: this malware parades itself to be a safe, fun, or important file or software… and it turns out that the file or software is neither fun, nor important, and instead is full of malwares that unload themselves onto your computer.
Ransomware: Similar to spyware, the point of this malware is not to attack your computer but again, to attack you. Ransomware hits you where it hurts; locking your computer from being used until you pay the “kidnapper” a disclosed amount of money to unlock the computer.
So there you have it! Pretty much everything that infects your computer is actually a malware, and some can undoubtedly be worse than others. Yet, this is only a small list of the possible types of malware that are out there. This is why it’s important to have a good –and up to date– antivirus installed on your computer at all times.
For employers, naturally you can’t monitor each of your employees to ensure that they’re practicing safe computer habits, but what you can do is pick a trusted and highly received IT company to keep your computers up to date with the latest antimalware programs possible. It just so happens that that’s one of the solutions offered at Prototype IT. Read more about the solutions offered by our team here!