Malware is shortened term for malicious software and is usually used to cause harm to your PC in a wide number of ways. Despite the different directions malware software can take, the overall goal remains the same: to control, damage or disable some or all parts of your computer. Malware’s typical agenda is to make money on you in some way. Whether it be by stealing data, monitoring your online habits or assuming command of core computer features to perform tasks for them. As you can, malware can get pretty bad, but are they the same as a virus and how can I protect my PC from malware and speed up my machine in the process?
Is Malware a Virus?
While the terms malware and viruses are normally seen hovering around one another, they are not interchangeable and should not be used in place of each other. A virus is a type of malware that is most famous for being a string of contagious coding with the intentions of spreading across the hosting system and also spread when sharing files and/or software between PCs. Seems more like a parasite than a virus.
The term malware is more have a blanket term that encompasses the ideology of malicious software as a whole. A virus can be categorized as Malware, but not all Malware can be categorized as a virus.
Frequently Known Types of Malware
Adware- This is a type of advertising-supported software and its sole purpose is to generate money or revenue for the author. Adware observes internet activity and displays ads the resemble related advertisements seen. Even though not all Adware has malicious intent, the strain it puts on PC performance is enough to label it as a bad guy.
Ransomware- This form of malware controls access to the PC and gives the user an ultimatum to pay a fee. In some cases, it can appear as a popup or as a full system message, preventing you from using your computer until funds are paid to the cybercriminals in control of the software. Some enthusiast may remember the infamous Cryptolocker as a popular ransomware.
Spyware- Spyware can be used both positively and negatively. Some employers install spyware to keep track of employee productivity in the forms of keyloggers and network monitors. Many spyware programs are hard to detect and remain hidden, where it collects information on the user without permission. This information can be used in a number of ways depending on hacker intent.
Trojan- This is a type of virus that is designed to have the user believe they are using a safe and legitimate program. Some can be programmed to take personal data, financial data or a combination of both. It starts to take over hosting resources which can cause network instability.
Virus- Viruses have bad programming with pure intentions on spreading and infecting a wide array of components on your machine. It is usually spread through file transfers or downloaded shares between computers.
Worms- Perhaps one of the most known of the malware family: worms. These little buggers purpose is to replicate itself and continue to feed on your information until there is nothing left of the system operating files. Things can get pretty scary—pretty quick.
How to Know if You Have Malware
Malware is not always obvious to spot, but there are a few things that you can keep an eye out for. In order to diagnose your problem, you will have to find out how your performance is doing and if there is something off about it. Review this show malware checklist:
- PC performance slowed suddenly
- Unfamiliar new icons appear
- Blue Screen of Death
- New toolbars or plugins on homepage or browser
- Blatantly admitting its existences in your system
As mentioned above, there are a number of ways and types of malware and many of them are not the same and perform different agendas. Determining what has your computer bogged down may lie in the above information. Have you been introduced to a resource-sucking worm? Or maybe you are locked out of your system because of ransomware? There are ways to protect yourself from these threats, whether it be simple habit changes or installing trusted safety & security software in hopes to keep your data and machine secure.
Protecting Your Life from Malware
Staying on top of things is an obvious way to protect yourself, but what exactly does it mean to safeguard against Malware and viruses? We’ve explored a 2-step process into arming yourself with the best possible tools.
Step 1- Be mindful of your activities. If you receive an email from a source you don’t remember or know, leave it alone and send it to trash. The same can also be said for downloads from questionable sites and those uncertain links that end in odd extensions like .xyz. Keep your OS and device up-to-date on the latest patches for the most protection.
Step 2- Should you go with just one type of defense or is it smarted to load up on an army of software defenders? Whether you are going for an all-in-one suite or picking the best for each category, you will need to make sure it is sufficient and offers a minimum of basic protection in each category: Firewall, Antivirus and Antimalware. Since your machine is already running slow, there are lite options that concentrate in each area of focus that rely on very little system resources. Sure you are putting more stuff on your system to speed it up. Think of it like changing an air filter. The malware on your system (dirt in your filter) is causing it to run slow, but when you put a specialized filter in it, the performance increases while helping to defend against future slowdowns.
Using Third Party Software
There are some pretty amazing software vendors out there that offer a wide range of features, services and protection options. Top companies like Avast, AVG and Comodo, provide multiple levels of protection, each touting antivirus, antimalware and strong firewall features. Free versions work as a basic level of protection.
Your Built-in OS Solution is Stronger than You Think
Rounding it out, using your MacOs Mojave or Windows Defender has become extremely viable options for basic protection. These manufacturers want to keep their machines protected from intruders, which protects the users overall.
Has malware slowed down your PC? What type of security software are you using?