The Different Pests You Should Know About That Can Invade Your Computer
The word “Malware” is short for malicious software and includes all kinds of computer pests, including Viruses, Worms, Spyware, Adware, Trojan Horses, Keyloggers, Rootkits, and Browser Highjackers.
A Trojan Horse looks like a program that does one thing, but when you open it or click on something, a virus attacks your system. Trojans can also be innocent looking attachments to email messages.
There are different types of malware Viruses, including file infector viruses, boot sector viruses, macro viruses, and script viruses.
A file infector virus hides in the code of a program, such as a utility, business program, or game.
Boot sector viruses were mostly spread by floppy disks and are less common today. They were in the part of the disk read into memory when a computer booted up.
Macro viruses are like small programs and potentially more dangerous than a file infector or boot sector virus, because they can attach to document files like those from Word or Excel. So people sharing a Word or Excel document could be spreading a virus.
There are two types of malware called Worms. One kind spreads from computer to computer on a network. Another spreads via email. Worms can include their own invisible email programs and install spyware, trojans and keyloggers on other computers.
Spyware is a program that installs itself on your computer without your knowledge. Then it watches your habits. It can also cause an ad to appear out of nowhere (adware).
It can clog your computer’s memory, use up space on your hard drive, and/or cause messages to pop on the screen telling you your hard drive is overloaded and about to fail.
Spyware can slow your computer down so that it’s almost unusable.
It can capture your keystrokes (known as a Keylogger) and send them to someone else’s computer. This means that potentially you could be giving your passwords to thieves.
It can also allow other people to log onto your computer remotely and use it to send spam or viruses to other computers.
It can change settings on your computer. It can cause a different window to come on when you turn on your computer, instead of the normal windows desktop.
A Rootkit is one of the worst types of viruses, and can get an “administrative level” control over you computer. It can actually change the way your operating system works. One of the “changes” it makes is turning off your Windows Firewall. In some cases it tampers with your anti-virus program, making it ineffective.
I have also seen a rootkit corrupt an internet connection, so that even though your ISP (Internet Service Provider) tests and says your (incoming cable) connection is fine, the rootkit disables the connection between your modem and computer.
A rootkit can come in by exploiting a known vulnerability, or by obtaining a password.
Your anti-virus software may not be able to detect the rootkit or remove it. In many cases you’ll have to back up your data and reinstall a new operating system.
A Browser Highjacker can keep you from going on the internet, or change your homepage. Browser Highjackers can be one of the hardest viruses to remove.
Ransomware is a type of Malware that is very similar to a Browser Highjacker, and also may be very difficult to remove.
This virus blocks access to your computer, and demansds that a ransom be paid before you can have access. Some of these viruses may actually encrypt files on your hard drive, but the most common form of Ransomware simply locks your computer to trick you into paying money.