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What is Malware?

Whether you find the anti-virus program or search the net, the term malware appears everywhere. In this practical tip we will explain what this actually is.

What is Malware?

Malware is a collective term for programs designed to harm users. There are many subtypes of malware - for example, viruses, Trojans, rootkits or spyware. All work differently and have different tasks. But they have one common goal: to harm you.

How do you catch malware?

Malware can lurk virtually anywhere - whether surfing the web, opening a download or email attachment, or connecting a USB flash drive. You rarely even notice that your PC has been infected - unless your anti-virus software has averted the danger.

Even if there are threats everywhere, you don't have to pull the network cable and stop surfing. With the software you need and a critical look at websites, downloads and email, you don't have to worry.

How do you protect yourself from malware?

Anti-virus software: The be-all and end-all for virus protection is an anti-virus program that always receives updates. So you are also protected against the latest viruses. Good and free software is available from Avira, Avast, AVG, Comodo and BitDefender.

Firewall: Firewall is enabled by default on Windows. It controls all incoming and outgoing connections and blocks them in case of anomalies.

Updates: To keep your system and programs safe, you should always install the latest updates for Windows and only use the latest versions of your programs.

What types of malware are there?

Virus: A virus consists of only one file that contains malicious code. It introduces the virus into a program, usually makes it unusable and then tries to spread further.

Trojan: The Trojan is also known as the Trojan horse, because the user installs a supposedly useful program from which a threat then emerges. Other types of malware are usually smuggled in.

Adware: Adware is the most harmless form of virus because it does not really harm your system. It usually nests itself in the browser as a toolbar or add-on and tries to display advertisements and influence your surfing behavior.

Spyware: Spyware collects sensitive data that you store on your computer or enter when banking online. The information is then sent to the creator of the spyware.

Worm: A worm works similarly to a virus, but does not primarily infect programs. Worms are more likely to infect storage media such as USB sticks and external hard drives.

Rootkit: A rootkit usually gets onto the PC via other malware such as a Trojan and allows the creator access to certain parts of your system.
Backdoor: These "backdoors" are infiltrated by other malware and also allow the creator permanent access to your system.

Exploit: An exploit exploits security gaps in the system or in programs and can even control the entire PC.

Keylogger: You document every keystroke on your keyboard. For example, if you enter your account number and PIN in online banking, the keylogger sends the data to its creator.

Ransomware: This type of malware uses software to block parts of your system and demands a ransom for release.

Rogueware, also known as scareware, is software that pretends to be a virus scanner, for example. After the alleged discovery of numerous viruses, the program requires the purchase of the full version to remove the fictitious threats.