What Is Malware?

Know what's affecting you.


Malware is a contraction for malicious software. It is an umbrella term for all kinds of software intended to perform unwanted or harmful functions on a system. To clarify, malicious software is any software that cyber attackers use to exploit other software or hardware.

There exist many types of malware that could potentially harm a system. Familiar names like viruses, trojans, adware are all different types of malware. Once you have malware on your home or office system, the entirety of your data is at risk, and the infection might lock you out of your system.

But, how does malicious software spread in the first place? It’s pretty easy to get malware on your PC if you frequently download files from the internet. It can spread via infected applications, suspicious emails with links, infected attachments, physical media like USB drives, and more.

Cyber attackers, hackers, and scammers create and make use of malware for their good. Depending on the type of malware you have on your PC, they might steal your data, use your PC’s resources, spread ads throughout the PC, or encrypt your data and ask for money. The most common purposes for using malicious software include:

  • Data theft
  • Corporate espionage
  • Mining cryptocurrency
  • DDoS attacks
  • Asking for money via ransomware

Types and prevention

There are several types of malware that could infect a PC or a series of systems. Every type of malicious software has a specific target and purpose and a different way of how it spreads. Here are the types of malware that are most common:

  • Viruses
  • Trojan horses
  • Spyware
  • Adware
  • Ransomware
  • Worms
  • Keyloggers
  • Cryptominers

Above all, protection against malicious software is entirely dependent on the end-user. Hence, all users should keep in mind some basic practices to protect themselves from malware. It also affects a person as much as it affects a PC.

Be aware that while downloading files from the internet, do not open suspicious links or emails, and do not download anything from unusual websites. Finally, use anti-malware or antivirus software such as Malwarebytes at regular intervals.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth Dudeja

An engineering student with a keen interest in most aspects of technology. Likes to write about Microsoft, Apple, Laptops, Gaming, etc.
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