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Malware is a broad term used to describe software that’s designed for illicit purposes. Its purpose ranges from stealing personal information to causing disruptions and extorting money. Hackers are always looking for ways to infiltrate a system, and there are many ways that malware can be delivered to computers or mobile devices.

The most common types of malware include viruses, worms and Trojan horses. Viruses attach their malicious code to clean programs and wait for unsuspecting users or automated processes to execute them. Like biological viruses, they can spread quickly and cause damage to systems and data. Worms are similar to viruses but they self-replicate without a host program and can spread across networks of infected machines to create botnets that can be controlled by attackers to launch attacks or send spam. Trojans masquerade as legitimate software programs to gain access to a system, and can execute their malicious functions once installed. Adware displays unwanted advertising, and spyware collects user data and observations of a device or computer’s usage. Finally, ransomware encrypts files on a computer or network, and requires that the victim pay a ransom to the hackers to have their data decrypted.

Malware may appear in a variety of ways, such as email attachments or through popular collaboration tools. Logic bombs, which are bits of code that lie dormant until activated by a specific time or event, and time bombs, which are a subset of a logic bomb, are also emerging threats.