What is Malware?
Malware is the name given to any software that could harm a computer system, interfere with a user's data, or make the computer perform actions without the owner's knowledge or permission.
Basically malware is software that you really don't want to have on your computer!
People can end up with malware installed on their computer system in a variety of ways:
- Installing software that seems ok, but has malware hidden inside (know as a 'Trojan Horse').
- Having their computer hacked, and the software installed by the hacker.
- Visiting dodgy websites and clicking on infected links
- The computer being infected by a computer virus
So, What is a Computer Virus?
Most computer viruses come with some kind of 'payload' - the malware that does something to your computer.
For example, the virus might install some spyware (software that watches what you do with your computer), it might search your computer for credit card information, or it might install software that gives someone remote control of your computer (turning it into a 'zombie').
How Can a Computer Be Protected from Viruses?
- Install anti-virus software and keep it up-to-date (this is the most important thing you can do!)
- Install anti-malware software (stops software installing without your knowledge)
- Never download and install software from the Internet unless you are certain it is from a source you can trust
- Don’t open e-mail attachments unless you have scanned them (even a file that seems to be a picture can contain a virus)
- Don’t click links in websites that seem suspicious (if a site is offering prizes / free stuff / etc. be suspicious!)
- If someone gives you a memory stick or CD-ROM, run a virus scan on it before opening any files.
- Don’t trust cracked versions of software from file-sharing sites (often these have viruses and other malware added to them - a Trojan horse)