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Malware is software that disrupts, damages or disables computers and computer systems, networks, tablets and mobile devices. It can be used to spy on a device, steal private information, lock up data or encrypt files.

Definitions and Types

Malware comes in many forms, each with a different method of attack. Some are delivered over email, others through instant messaging (IM) or social media.


Possibly the most common malware, viruses attach themselves to clean code and wait for an unsuspecting user or an automated process to execute them. They can cause serious damage to the core functionality of a system, corrupting files and locking users out.


Unlike viruses, worms infect one machine and weave their way through the network to connect with consecutive machines. This makes it easy for them to spread and infect even larger networks, like the ones used by large enterprises.


Another annoying type of malware is adware, which infects browsers and pushes unwanted advertisements at you. The ads often flash or reload in full-screen mode, and they can be annoying enough to make you want to delete the software.


Another form of malware, Trojans infiltrate a victim’s computer by presenting itself as legitimate software. Once activated, Trojans can be programmed to carry out anything the attacker wishes. The most dangerous type of Trojans are ransomware, which encrypts files until the victim pays a fee to unlock them. These attacks have become a prime malware delivery vector since 2013.