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Malware is invasive software or computer code that is designed to infect, damage, or gain access to your computers, devices, and networks. It’s used for everything from stealing financial information to launching ransomware attacks that can lock up your files and require payment.

There are many different types of malware, each with its own purpose and threat level. However, all malware variants aim to compromise your system’s security and privacy.

The most common types of malware are worms, viruses, Trojans, and ransomware. Worms replicate themselves, whereas viruses usually spread from file to file on a single machine.

Trojans disguise themselves as harmless programs, but once activated, they cause significant harm to their host computer. They often try to steal files or passwords, and some even encrypt the user’s data.

Viruses are self-replicating programs that infect other computers or devices on your network. They can be delivered via a software vulnerability or phishing attack, or they can be embedded in an application.

Botnets are malicious networks of infected computers that provide a hacker with a massive amount of processing power for DDoS attacks, spamming, and data theft. They can also be used to send fake ads on your web browser or to install Trojans and other malware onto your device.

The most common ways to get infected with malware are through spoofed websites of well-known brands and organizations, malicious links included in mass emailing or instant messaging, or attachments in file-sharing programs like P2P. They can also come in the form of compromised software or unsecured USB drives.