18 May 2012

Whats the difference between a virus, spyware, Malware, and adware?

Now days the average computer user must be aware of the potential threats their computer faces each time they connect to the world wide web. It is a dangerous place for a computer and the security threats are growing everyday. Now we also have to protect our online accounts as well as files on our own computers. I know Avast Internet security now covers your social networking accounts.  It is all so confusing, viruses, spyware, malware, and adware, just to name a few. Why are they all so different?

In the old days we used to call everything a virus, however now days we have more precise names to further categorize them. Below I will show you the difference between a virus, spyware, malware, and adware. It is important to protect your computer from viruses but how can you do that when you do not know what you are dealing with?

What is Malware?

Malware is a software program that has bad intentions. It can either be installed by the computer user accidentally or it can sneak into your computer through various avenues. Its not the same as a piece of software that by chance causes harm to your computer, malware is software that has been developed with the intent of causing problems with your computer.

What is Spyware?

Spyware is a type of malware program that invades your computer and basically spies on you. There are different types of spyware that collect different information. A common spyware type is a keylogger which records keystrokes typed on your keyboard. This is how people lose their bank account details. Other spyware will record your actions and browsing habits on the internet. Any information collected by spyware is usually with the intent to sell.

What is Adware?

Adware is another form of malware and is exactly as the name suggests, software with advertising. Adware can be downloaded and sometimes included in free programs. For example Windows Live messenger and Yahoo messenger contain adware. Although some programs give the option not to install the extra adware, others seem to sneak it in without permission.

What is Virus?

A virus is a small program designed to infect your computer and cause errors, computer crashes, and even destroy your computer hardware. Unlike spyware, a virus can grow and replicate itself. It can also travel from one computer to another via an internet connection. Of course you can get viruses from discs with virus infested files stored on them, however the internet is the most common entry point. Some common symptoms of a virus are emails being sent to all contacts when you didn’t send them, being taken to webpage’s that you didn’t choose, or being told you have a virus and to download a program to fix it.


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