malware pie chart

When people say that their computer is infected, what does that mean? It means they’ve been the victim of malware.  Then again, what exactly is malware? 

Malware such as viruses first came around ask pranks, during the beginning of the internet. However, they soon transitioned to become profit oriented.

Malware is, as the name suggests, malicious software that has a main intent to harm your system or gather information from it. A piece of software is usually categorized as malware if the intent, rather than the features themselves, is deemed to be malicious. According to Symantec, the producer of well-known antivirus software Norton, “the release rate of malicious code and other unwanted programs may be exceeding that of legitimate software applications.”

Malware is running so much on the internet that every one in 14 downloads now probably contains some strain of malicious software. The average payout for malware infections for every thousand infections is $60.

How does malware work? Obviously malware has to be able to run without being closed or ended by the user. There are various ways that malware accomplishes this.

The most common method, the use of Trojans, involves hiding the malicious software within something that a user would download or run without knowing its true intent. Another method is the use of rootkits. Rootkits were originally programs that enabled access to admin privileges (root user) on UNIX systems. Now, rootkits modify your OS (Operating System) to hide themselves, and therefore make sure they are protected from removal. Some rootkits hide themselves so deeply within the OS that a complete reinstall is required to wipe them out. However, the most common method rootkits use to hide themselves is creating self-resurrecting processes. If one process is ended, another process resurrects the malware. In essence, it tries to create an immutable process, so any attempt to halt the spyware has no effect.

One additional method, used to make the lives of other malware easier, is the backdoor. Backdoors are installed either after a system has been compromised through Trojans, or rootkits, to enable easy entry in the future. If a system is infected with Backdoors, it is more vulnerable to become infected with numerous types of malware.

If you feel you may have been affected by malware, check out our malware removal guide.

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