Malware. Chances are you’ve heard about it in the forms of viruses and spyware but what is it and why exactly is it so bad for your computer? Things like Trojan horses, viruses, worms, and spyware are created with the sole intent of damaging your computer. Over time, malware can take over your computer, making it sluggish and hampering its performance. If you’ve ever noticed that it takes a long time for files to load or your web browser seems to take forever to load a site, it could be the result of malware.
Here’s a quick rundown on the 4 most common forms of malware and how they can negatively affect your computer:
Trojan Horses get their name from Greek mythology and their deceptive nature. In the case of computer related Trojan Horses, they’re applications that might not be what it appears. Trojan Horses install themselves on your computer by clicking on a legitimate looking piece of software, an online game, or even antivirus software. Clicking on a Trojan Horse will automatically cause it to run, often erasing your hard drive in the process.
Worms are invisible files that make their way through the memory on your machine, multiplying as they go. As worms multiply, they occupy more and more of your computer’s memory and space on your hard drive. They are a form of computer virus that makes your machine sluggish.
Spyware watches as you use your computer and works to capture usernames and passwords and credit card information. This information is often sent to spyware creators over the internet who use your data as a way to make money. Like worms and viruses, spyware often comes through email attachments. To prevent spyware from running, avoid clicking on anything suspicious.
Viruses are computer scripts that are often attached to email attachments. If an email from a friend has a strange looking subject line and contains an attachment, opening that attachment will unleash the virus on to your computer. Viruses run silently in the background and often create, move, or erase files. They’re also memory hogs that can slow the speed of your computer, making it impossible to multitask.
How do you protect yourself and your computer against malware? Installing antivirus software, such as the free Microsoft Security Essentials, is the first line of defense. If you purchase antivirus software, be aware that the licenses expire so ensure that your license is current and active so it can continue to protect your PC.
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