Malware, short for malicious software, is a software designed to harm or secretly access a computer system without the owner's informed consent. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, dishonest adware, scareware, crimeware, most rootkits, and other malicious and unwanted software or program.
When you listen to the news, you hear about many different forms of electronic virus infection. The most common are:
- Viruses - A virus is a small piece of software that piggybacks on real programs. For example, a virus might attach itself to a program such as a spreadsheet program. Each time the spreadsheet program runs, the virus runs too, and it has the chance to reproduce (by attaching to other programs) or wreak havoc.
- E-mail viruses - An e-mail virus moves around in e-mail messages , and usually replicates itself by automatically mailing itself to dozens of people in the victim's e-mail address book.
- Worms - A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of the worm scans the network for another machine that has a specific security hole. It copies itself to the new machine using the security hole, and then starts replicating from there as well.
- Trojan horses - A Trojan horse is simply a computer program. The program claims to do one thing (it may claim to be a game) but instead does damage when you run it (it may erase your hard disk ). Trojan horses have no way to replicate automatically.
Here at Rochelle.Net, we continue to see a lot of computer virus traffic. We strongly recommend to each of our customers that they run anti-virus software on each computer and be very careful to keep the virus definitions up to date. New viruses continue to show up on an almost daily basis and the only way to protect yourself is current anti-virus software. Due to the malicious content of these programs RMU suggests that all customers consider using the following tools and websites to eradicate these virus/worms.
Spyware is computer software that gathers information about a computer user without the user's knowledge or informed consent, and then transmits this data to an organization (that usually expects to be able to profit from it in some way). Data-collecting programs installed with the user's knowledge are not, properly speaking, spyware, if the user fully understands what data is being collected and with whom it is being shared.
More broadly, the term spyware is applied to a wide range of related adware products which are not spyware in the strict sense. These products perform many different functions, including the delivery of unrequested advertising, harvesting private information, re-routing page requests to illegally claim commercial site referral fees, and installing stealth phone dialers.
While spyware and adware usually won't effect your network settings, they can hog system resources and considerably slow down your system. We recommend that you keep anti-spyware and anti-adware software on your computer and up-to-date at all times. This can ensure that your computer will keep running smoothly and also acts to help prevent future problems.
Two programs that we recommend for finding and deleting spyware and adware on your computer are Ad-aware and Spybot Search & Destroy for Windows. Both are free downloads. Another solution receiving a great deal of industry press is the new Microsoft Windows Defender program. While it should be noted that this product is still in the beta testing stages, staff at Rochelle.Net have been using it for several months with good results.