5 Different Types of Malicious Software and What They Do

Apps & Software

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Here is a quick look at some different types of malicious software and what they do. By definition, these are all viruses, but they all present and act differently.


The worm is a special type of malicious software. It is usually self-replicating and upon replication, it executes itself and continues replicating. For this reason, it is very difficult to stop, and it can quickly spread throughout a network and cause real trouble for the business, depending on what the impact of the worm is, and what it’s designed to do. A famous example is the ILOVEYOU worm from 2000, which distributed by sending itself to all the contacts in a victim’s Outlook contact list and once activated, overwrote the victim’s files.

Trojan Horses

The trojan horse draws not only its name but its method from the story of the Greek trojan horse. Designed to look and act like a legitimate piece of software or document to gain enough trust that a user opens or runs it, once opened, it will secretly start to perform the task it was created to do. This might be any number of malicious tasks, but more commonly, it will enable remote access for the hacker to steal data or passwords from the computer it is opened on.


Adware is perhaps the least damaging, but probably the most annoying type of malicious software in our list. It infects your computer, usually by exploiting a software flaw in a web browser when you visit an infected website and installs itself on your computer. It can then start displaying adverts to you in many different ways, either by opening browser windows or installing software that will open on your computer to display adverts.


Ransomware has seen a big growth in use since the advent of cryptocurrency made collecting money anonymously much easier. The idea behind ransomware is that it will infect your computer and encrypt the files on your hard drive. To get your files unencrypted and useable again, you would need to pay a fee in bitcoin to the creator of the software, who would then unencrypt your files. Of course, there is a very good chance this will never happen and more than likely once the ransomware infects your computer, your files are effectively gone for good.

Also Read: TheOneSpy Android Mobile Parental Control & Monitoring Software

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Spyware is perhaps one of the most troubling types of malicious software because it is one of the most harmful. By design, it spies on everything you do on your computer, recording everything. It can watch your keyboard keystrokes and send your files or pieces of information from your computer to someone else, usually the creator of the spyware. Companies like FraudWatch International can assist in keeping your computers and networks spyware-free.

An antivirus application goes a long way to being your first line of defense against threats like viruses and the different types of malicious software, but real protection starts at the entry point to your network where incoming data and connections can be scanned in real-time for threats.

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