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Malware is an umbrella term for malicious programs that invade, sabotage or steal computer resources, usually without the user’s permission. This includes viruses, worms, Trojan horses and ransomware, among others.

Malicious Software

The history of malware can be a complicated one, with many variants surfacing over time. However, a few trends have emerged over the years.

From 2002 to 2007, attackers started developing worms that could infect computers through instant messages like AOL, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger. These worms would send links to every name on the victim’s contact list.

These were then executed by the infected person’s computer, which was often a Windows PC. This resulted in massive outbreaks of worms that spread quickly across the Internet.

Cybercriminals used these worms to infect thousands of machines and take advantage of vulnerable systems and networks. They also targeted corporate and personal accounts to steal, encrypt or delete data and spy on users’ activity.


The most common forms of spyware are keyloggers, which log all of a user’s keyboard strokes and collect information on what they do on the computer. This information is transmitted back to the threat actor.


Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts files on the infected machine, demanding a payment (ransom) in order to decrypt them. This is especially dangerous for businesses, as it locks them out of their own accounts and devices until they meet the demand.