Viruses, Trojans, Malware, Worms... we've all heard these terms used by frustrated IT Staff, but what is the real difference between them?
Our handy guide breaks down these commonly used terms, and lets you know exactly what each one is, and what it does to your PC!
- Malware - Literally meaning 'Malicious Software'. This term is often used as an umbrella term to cover all the others. Any software that is designed to harm your system or steal data can be considered Malware.
- Virus - Just like a human virus, a computer virus is an infection that spreads by moving from one PC to another, usually attached to executable files. These can delete or corrupt files, and some really nasty ones can completely break your PC, so it needs a full reload.
- Worm - While many people mistake these for viruses, there are some big differences. Worms work by sending copies of themselves through a network or the internet in order to infect other PC's. The usually exploit security holes, which are hastily patched by software providers. Once there they can affect the performance of your PC, slow your network down, and cause any number of annoyances! The easiest way to stop these is by using a locked down firewall and making sure your antivirus software is on and up to date
- Trojan - Quite straight forward this one (if you've heard of a Trojan Horse that is). Put simply, this is a piece of software which says it does one thing, but in fact does something completely different. In this case, it opens a back door into your system and allows third party access without your permission - and often without you even realising it until it's too late!
- Spyware - This is software which is installed on your system with a secret agenda, usually to send information back to the creator! This could be in the form of key logging in order to see your passwords, or gaining other information like credit card numbers. As the idea is to secretly gain information, most people are unaware they even have spyware.
- Scareware - Last but not least - a new name for you, and an increasingly popular attack. With Scareware, you are tricked into downloading a fake antivirus application (often disguised as something else). Once downloaded, this application then tells you that your PC is infected with hundreds of viruses, and that they can only be removed if you pay the full license!
Whether they merely annoy, or cause irrevocable harm to your System, Malware really is best avoided! Always make sure that your antivirus is running correctly and kept up to date, and if you're in any doubt about the origin of an email or download, err on the side of caution!
If you would like any information, or are concerned about anything above and would like some advice, please get in touch, and we'll be happy to help!