Malware is an abbreviated form of “malicious software.” This is software that is specifically designed to gain access to or damage a computer, usually without the knowledge of the owner. There are various types of malware, including spyware, ransomware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware, or any type of malicious code that infiltrates a computer.
Generally, software is considered malware based on the intent of the creator rather than its actual features. Malware creation is on the rise due to money that can be made through organized Internet crime. Originally malware was created for experiments and pranks, but eventually it was used for vandalism and destruction of targeted machines. Today, much of malware is created to make a profit from forced advertising (adware), stealing sensitive information (spyware), spreading email spam or child pornography (zombie computers), or extorting money (ransomware).
Various factors can make computers more vulnerable to malware attacks, including defects in the operating system (OS) design, all of the computers on a network running the same OS, giving users too many permissions, or just because a computer runs on a particular operating system, such as Windows, for example.
The best protection from malware — whether ransomware, bots, browser hijackers, or other malicious software — continues to be the usual, preventive advice: be careful about what email attachments you open, be cautious when surfing by staying away from suspicious websites, and install and maintain an updated, quality antivirus program.