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What Is Malware?

Malware is an intrusive program or file designed to harm a computer, network, or server.

Deeper Definition 

Malware is a portmanteau for malicious software. It is software designed intentionally to damage or destroy computer systems. The goal of malware is to exploit devices for the benefit of the hacker (the person who designed or deployed it).

There are times when software may unintentionally cause harm to a computer due to an error in the program. This is known as a software bug. It differs from malware as malware is designed with the intent to purposely cause harm.

There are several types of malware. Some examples are:

  • Trojan horse: It is a type of malware that misleads users of its true intent. 
  • Worms: It is a type of malware that replicates itself to spread to other computers.
  • Ransomware: It is a type of malware that threatens to publish the victim’s data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.
  • Spyware: It is a type of malware that violates a victim’s privacy. It gathers information about the victim and sends it to another entity.
  • Rogue software: It is a type of malware that deceives computer users into believing their system is affected by a virus and convinces them to install a fake virus removal tool that installs malware on their computer.

Gaining prominence as early as the 1970s. These types of programs were created firstly as experiments and pranks. However, over the years, they have evolved into tools for black hat hackers to steal personal and financial information.

There are various means through which malware is delivered into a system. For instance, a phishing attack is a common way of malware delivery. Unsuspecting users may receive emails that look legitimate but contain malicious links or attachments that deliver the malicious software.

Malware Example

Stuxnet is an example of malware. It was created by the intelligence agencies of the United States and Israel. Stuxnet is a sophisticated computer worm that targets centrifuges used to produce the enriched uranium that powers nuclear weapons and reactors. In 2010 when they deployed it, it infected many computers worldwide. However, it was at the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz that it caused real damage.

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