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Malware is any software designed to harm or exploit a computer, system or network. It’s behind most cyberattacks and can be deployed for a wide range of malicious purposes, from stealing passwords to encrypting files and demanding ransom payments. Whether as toxic code snippets or self-replicating apps, malware reaches virtually every corner of today’s threat landscape.

Viruses, worms and Trojans are some of the most common types of malware. Each has its own specific way of wreaking havoc. For example, a virus typically binds itself to other programs or files and looks for pathways between computers in order to spread, while a worm can replicate without a host program and is able to move quickly. Trojans are similar to viruses in that they appear as legitimate applications and can execute their malicious functions once activated, like stealing data, spying on activities or crashing systems.

Many of these threats are aimed at businesses, and can be delivered via email or social media platforms such as instant messaging or social networks. USB drives and other external storage devices can also be used to distribute malware. Malware can also lurk on peer to peer (P2P) file sharing networks, where it is downloaded by unsuspecting users. Once installed on a device, it can spread to other devices like phones, tablets or computers. This is why it’s critical to only use trusted sources and apply strict scrutiny when downloading apps and visiting websites. Also, avoiding public WiFi networks is recommended.