Here you go instead of a copy and pasted 1 paragraph explanation///
Exploring the Threats to Your Computer
You may notice something a little odd with your computer. It could be running slower than usual or important files may turn up missing. The damage sustained from an intrusion in your private computer space is probably a result of malware. So, what is malware and what does it have to do with you?
Malware (also known as malicious software) has the ability to enter your computer and cause damage to the system without your knowledge or consent. Sometimes, the intrusion is minor and annoying, while other forms of malware are quite serious, causing irreversible destruction to your current applications, files and data. The infiltration of your personal space can even attach itself to your outgoing correspondences and infect others.
When you want to find out what malware is on your computer, you should know what is considered as such. Many familiar computer threats help you to understand what malware is. They include viruses, worms, spyware, adware and Trojan horses. The problem is so serious that there have been legal codes set in various states, such as California, that define these entities as “computer contaminants”.
Different Types of Malware
To select the proper course of action to eliminate harmful presences on your computer, you will need to know what you are dealing with. First, there is the infectious type that comes in the form of viruses and worms. They are the most commonly known and are responsible for a quick spread from one computer to the next, through email attachments and Internet downloads. They also possess the potential to wipe out entire program and system files, making your computer quite unusable.
Trojans often download onto a computer while under the guise of another program. Once downloaded, they may cause damage throughout your computer system as they latch onto important files.
More serious spyware tactics attempt to retrieve passwords and credit card numbers from computer uses. Spyware and adware are quite annoying, as they display in the form of irritating pop-ups upon your computer screen while surfing the Internet.
Protect Your Computer
Once you know what malware is and the types of malware involved, you will be able to choose the proper software to fix your problems, as well as other means of computer protection. Virus scanners, antispyware and firewall protection are just some of the things used to keep your computer safe and healthy.
What is Malware?
Malware in its many forms poses one of the biggest threats to internet users today. Malicious software can be divided into a number of different categories and includes computer viruses, worms, Trojans and spyware among others. It has the ability to hijack your web browser, redirect your search engine attempts, bombard your screen with pop-up advertisements and even monitor your activity. Because malware is often poorly scripted, it may cause your computer to become terribly slow and unstable. If it is not removed immediately, this type of program can eventually cause your system to become inoperable.
Most malware programs will reinstall themselves even after you think they have been removed. They typically hide deep within the Windows registry, making them difficult to manually remove. When this occurs, your computer may become so unstable that installing a malware removal tool may be impossible.
Methods of Infection
Malware will find its way to your system in various ways. It often comes bundled with freeware applications such as iMesh, Kazaa and other file sharing programs. These programs mainly consist of adware, which is known to display pop-ups in hopes of generating revenue for the software's author. Other forms of malware are installed from sites purporting as software providers. Most of them will attempt to convince you to download a removal tool, claiming that your system is infected. Viruses and worms are mainly contracted via email, automatically launching themselves the moment you open an attachment. Some forms of malware can be installed from simply visiting an infected website.
Just being a user of Microsoft products makes you a prime target for malware. Outlook, Outlook Express, the Internet Explorer browser and Windows itself are known for having numerous security vulnerabilities, enabling malicious coders to penetrate a victim's system and infect it with viruses, worms or spyware. Unfortunately, catching an infection is much easier than eradicating it, as some variations have the ability to propagate, spread the infection to other computers and claim complete control of your system.
Although viruses are one of the most common forms, not all anti-virus programs will remove malware. There are, however, all-in-one internet security suites that claim to fight all types of infections. Aside from an anti-spyware application, a genuine malware tool is the best way to detect and eliminate the wide range of threats this type of infection presents. These programs having a better chance of detecting harmful programs your virus scanner may have missed.
Out of all computer code released onto the internet today, most appears to be of a malicious nature. According to preliminary results gathered by Symantec sensors in 2008, the release rate of malware and other unwanted software may soon exceed that of legitimate applications. F-Secure follows this up by reporting that just as much malware was released in 2007 as in the past twenty years combined. As the outbreak of malicious software is likely to only get worse, it's important to take every precaution when conducting activities on the internet. At the bare minimum, your system should be equipped with an anti-malware program to keep this tremendous threat away
A keylogger is just what it sounds like. It is a program that logs every keystroke you make and then sends that information, including things like passwords, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers, to whomever is spying on you. A Trojan horse may damage your system, and it may also install a "backdoor" through which to send your personal information to another computer. These forms of malware are commonly used for perpetrating identity theft.
A virus or a worm replicates itself and may hijack your system. These types of malware may then be used to send out spam or to accomplish a variety of other unsavory activities, and you may not even know it. Viruses usually attach to other programs, while worms are self-contained. Both can cause severe damage by eating up essential system resources, which may lead to your computer freezing or crashing. Viruses and worms commonly use shared files and items like email address books to spread to other computers.
Any type of code or program that is used for monitoring and collecting your personal information or disrupting or damaging your computer, may be referred to as malware. In fact, malware can be any type of malicious code, even if it has not yet been identified as a worm, Trojan, etc. Good anti-virus programs can be configured to scan email for any type of malicious or suspicious code, and alert you to its presence, even if it is not currently recognized malware.
Anti-virus programs are good protection when kept up to date. However, they frequently miss certain types of malware, such as Trojans and spyware, so it is a good idea to run at least one anti-adware program in conjunction with anti-virus. Running two is even better. Utilizing a firewall is also helpful. While it won't keep malware out, it can keep such programs from accessing the internet and delivering your personal information to the intended target.