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Types of Malware | Spyware, Adware, Ransomware, Trojans and Worms Explained

Malware, short for malicious program, is a blanket term for worms, Trojans, adware, ransomware, spyware, viruses, just to name a few.

An attacker uses these malicious programs to steal user sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, plus cause chaos.

The good news is, there are programs specifically made such as this top internet security software you can check out and anti-malware program we reviewed here, to protect and stop the spread of malware. Read the entire guide to learn what is malware, types and how to safeguard your mobile devices and networks, users, and administrator account against these harmful programs. Even the operating systems renown for their safety, such as Linux, need the best protection, as seen here, you can get.

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Types of Malware

Computer malware is everywhere. Cybercriminals use computer viruses , malicious files and other malicious code/s to make money.

When your devices such as mobile phones and computers are infected with malware, a hacker will steal your sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, and users' login information to sell them in the black market to the highest bidder.

Using your bank details, a hacker can log in to your online bank account and steal your money. The other popular way crooks make cash is by use of ransomware. This is a type of malware that locks files and demands a ransom to be paid in order to release the files. If the ransom is not paid, the encrypted files may be destroyed, making ransomware one of the most destructive forms of malware.
On the other hand, you can check what keylogger, a threat that dates back and won't be reviewed here, is.

 With malware in the user's device and other computers, the hacker has complete control of the victim's computer and users' accounts and can do what they want; please try to find a way and avoid becoming a victim.

And remember, if you are on a tight budget, it doesn't mean you can't be protected - look at this free anti-virus reviews.

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Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to certain programs or folders until a certain amount of money is paid. Ransomware attacks are usually aimed at individuals but businesses are also targeted as we explained here and in our 'Enterprise Data Security' post.

It is worth noting that ransomware can encrypt the whole hard drive of a computer thus locking its user out or can lock crucial documents such as PDF, images, and Word documents.

It is one of the ways that crooks make money. Ransomware wreaks havoc on an infected computer system and demands payment to restore it to its original state. You will be asked to make payments with cryptocurrencies. Prevention is better than cure. Buy good security software to prevent computers from being compromised.


A computer virus is a type of harmful application that is designed to alter the way computers operate and spread malware or viruses from one computer to another.  Viruses will infect an executable file and program and target an operating system such as Microsoft windows because it has more users.

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A virus can also exploit a machine or device's vulnerability to gain unauthorized access or even remote access, steal personal information, or cause chaos. Protect your devices against a virus and other malware to prevent unauthorized access with the latest antivirus program and check out our 'How does antivirus work?' post.


Unlike viruses, spyware is application designed to secretly gather data on an unsuspecting user. Once a device is infected, the spyware starts to spy on what you do online. 

This malware hides in the background of your device or computer system recording keyboard keystrokes, stealing your login information and financial information. Some types of spyware can install additional programs that could gain access and will change the settings of your computers.

This type of malware is one of the most common threats on the internet right now. Choose a security program that can detect malware before it can access your device, network, or operating system. And don't forget to read our more detailed article in case you still wonder: 'What is spyware?'

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Adware is an advertisement-supported application. Adware attacks are just annoying because they display unwanted ads on your web browser or computer. These common types of malware are delivered through pop-up ads, can add other harmful software, or code, plus change your web browser’s homepage.

Like a Virus, this malware is bothersome though not lethal. It will collect your sensitive data so it can display ads that are tailored to your needs.  It can slow down its users’ systems because it is labor-intensive.

How do you tell that you have an adware or malware infection? Your machine is very slow, you are bombarded with ads, your device keeps crashing, and your browser homepage keeps changing.

To prevent malware infections, install a good antivirus that will detect and remove them before they have a chance of doing real harm to your network systems.

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Trojan Horses

What is a Trojan virus, and how does it work? The untrusted software or code of the malware designed to steal data, cause harm to your network and user account and even let hackers control your computer systems.

Unlike computer viruses, the Trojan horse malware does not self-replicate. Instead, trojan horse comes like a legitimate program. Cybercriminals will put on app markets and claimed to be legitimate applications for end users to download.  How to stay safe from Trojans and other malware like computer viruses and worms?

Update your operating system. Online criminals tend to exploit the vulnerability of an outdated program. Be careful with email attachments, avoid clicking links that look suspicious or don’t know because they might contain malware.

Also, good anti-malware software will offer protection plus remove malware if the target computer networks or computers are already infected.


This is a type of malware that replicates itself to spread to connected devices, from computer to computer, user to user, and another system. It may not need a user output in order to replicate, or malware spread to other machines. You can find out more about it by reading our 'What is a worm?' article.

Worms Trojan horses can inject additional malicious software. They can delete or modify a file and even create a backdoor for a hacker to access your devices and steal user data.


They can also cause a system to slow down since they make many copies of themselves. How to stay safe from viruses, worms, and other malware? Get good security software that will detect and remove these malicious codes before they have a chance of causing damage.

How do you know your networks or Devices have Malware?

Cyber-attack and malware are some of the biggest threats on the internet right now.  They often result in substantial financial and data loss. Therefore, you need to tell if your computer systems are infected so you can decide what to do next.

  • Your system keeps crashing
  • New files or folders have been created without your permission
  • You keep getting annoying ads all the time
  • You have icons of application that you did not download
  • Your device is very slow
  • You keep getting redirected to known or unknown websites or infected websites.
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How to Prevent a Malware Attack

Sophisticated malware attacks are deadly for your system. A single attack may cause a network to shut down, cause your machine to slow down, cybercriminals can gain access for administrative tasks enabling them to steal your data, compromise the operation of a business, etc.

Like I mentioned before, prevention is better than cure. You do not want your business shut down, your data were stolen, or paying a large amount of money to hackers to release your crucial files.

Keep your Operating System Updated

Always update your OS. Cybercriminals like exploiting software vulnerabilities of outdated programs. The new updates of operating systems have patches and close whatever vulnerability that might be present.

Update also your plug-ins, browsers, and unpatched software tools.  Are you still using Windows XP and 7? These OS are no longer supported hence may have a security flaw. Get Windows 10; it has a secured operating system. Also, remove any app or software that you are not using.

locked phone

Only buy Apps from Trusted sources

A smart strategy for protecting your network, system, and your devices is to only download apps from trusted sources such as the play store and Apple store. These companies do a good job of removing apps infected with malware.

Also, access only secured sites. Sites that have an SSL certificate or starts with HTTPS encrypt all data transmissions.  Do not click on a random click. It might contain malware.

Use Secure Authentication Methods

These practices will help keep your devices and online accounts safe.

Create a strong password for your online account. Although easy passwords such as 123456 are easy to remember, they are easily hacked by cybercriminals.  If you use such passwords for multiple accounts, you are just putting your data at risk.

How do you create strong passwords? Make sure to mix letters-upper and lower case letters, with numbers and special characters. If you cannot remember them, use a password manager. It will not only create strong passwords for you but will store and manage them for you.

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Use an Antivirus to protect Against Malicious Software

Protect yourself against all malware such as viruses worms trojan with a good antivirus program.  The best antivirus is designed not only to prevent infections but also to detect and remove malware if your devices become infected.

It comes with real-time protection that runs in the background scanning your computers for worm and preventing cyber attacks.

If it detects any malware, it will be neutralized before it has a chance of infecting your machine.  The best antivirus program comes with the following features;

  • Scans and removes even file-less malware. This is a type of malware that uses legitimate software to infect a computer.
  • Offers malware Protection; the best antivirus offers protection against all types of malware such as viruses, Trojans, etc.
  • Secure Network; a good anti-virus software will secure your entire network. It will close unnecessary ports plus monitor activity on your network.
  • Email Protection; this feature allows you to shield your emails from worm. It also scans emails for any threat to ensure email communications are safe.
showing some of the most popular anti virus choices for consumers


1. Which malware is most dangerous?

There are many different types of malware, but some are more dangerous than others. One of the most dangerous is a botnet. A botnet is a collection of computers that have been infected with malware and controlled by a single person or organization. The infected computers can be used to send spam, attack websites, or steal data. Another type of malware that can be very dangerous is ransomware. Ransomware encrypts your files and demands a ransom payment in order to unlock them. If you don't pay the ransom, you may lose your files forever.

2. What is difference between virus and malware?

The difference between them is that malware is a type of software that is specifically designed to cause harm to a computer system. It can include viruses, worms, and Trojans. Malware can damage files, steal information, or even take over the computer system. Viruses are a type of malware that can self-replicate and spread to other computers. They are often spread through email attachments or infected websites. Worms are a type of malware that replicate themselves and spread through networks.

3. What are the four main malware threats?

Malware threats come in many different shapes and sizes, but can be generally classified into four categories: viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware. Viruses are self-replicating pieces of software that attach themselves to other programs or files in order to spread. Worms are similar to viruses, but can also spread through network connections. Trojans are programs that masquerade as something else in order to deceive users into installing them.

4. Can antivirus detect malware?

Yes, antivirus software can detect malware. Malware is a type of software that is designed to harm or damage a computer system. Antivirus software is designed to detect and remove malware from a computer system.

5. Do I need antivirus and malware protection?

Yes, you should have antivirus and malware protection. Antivirus software protects your computer against viruses, while malware protection protects your computer against malicious software, including spyware, adware, and ransomware. Malware can steal your personal information, damage your computer, or even lock you out of your device until you pay a ransom. So it's important to have both antivirus and malware protection to keep your computer safe.

About Dusan Stanar

I'm the founder of VSS Monitoring. I have been both writing and working in technology in a number of roles for dozens of years and wanted to bring my experience online to make it publicly available. Visit https://www.vssmonitoring.com/about-us/ to read more about myself and the rest of the team.

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