What is Malware?

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What is malware?

Malware is a collective term for the many types of harmful software that can wreak all sorts of havoc if they get into your computer. Some forms will take complete control of your machine, some will monitor your actions and the keys you press, and some quietly extract all sorts of confidential data from your computer. In this article we answer the question: What is malware?

If you’ve ever downloaded something from the internet and seen an antivirus alert pop up or clicked a link in an email that didn’t take you where you expected to go, you’ve probably had a brush with Malware.

In fact, in almost all cases, you will have unwittingly taken some kind of action to install the malware. Read on to understand the basics about the various types of malware out there …

Malware – the typical varieties


A virus might be the best-known type of malware. Just as viruses can spread between humans on contact, computer viruses are able to attach themselves to software and spread between computers as software is shared or downloaded. Many viruses spread initially via files which have been illegally copied or downloaded from audio and video sharing platforms, but once on your computer, a virus will try to attach itself to other files including word documents, photos … and pretty much everything you have on your computer.


Ransomware is a form of malware designed to target PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, network devices (and even connected appliances) and extract a ransom payment. Most ransomware is designed to prevent you from accessing your data by encrypting your files. It is used mainly to demand money via online payments but is sometimes used simply to cause disruption. Learn more here about how to protect yourself from Ransomware, and on our Malware Protection page.


A Trojan is currently one of the most common types of malware. Trojans will advertise themselves as reputable programs but can then turn out to be carrying harmful software code which reconfigures your computer to effectively open a ‘back door’, leaving you open to further security problems and providing an easy way for attackers to extract information stored on your computer or other computers or devices attached to the same network.

What is malware? – where to find out more

To find out more about malware protection, please read our Malware page.

If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your IT provider or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Call us on 0118 435 9991 or email hello@vividlysimple.com