One big worry that every computer user has to think about is when their computer has been infected by a malware. So what exactly is a malware? There are many definitions of this term but I will try to simplify to make it easier to understand. In simple words it means malicious software. A malware is any software that gets installed on your machine and performs unwanted tasks. Malware programs can vary from simple irritating (pop-up advertising) to causing serious computer invasion and damage e.g. deleting your data, stealing your password and infecting your file (converting the files to unreadable forms). In addition some malware programs transmit information about your Web-browsing habits to advertisers or other third party interests without your knowledge.
Different categories of malware
- Virus – most people are familiar with this malware. It is a software that can replicate itself and to other computers or are. A virus attach itself to a program or file enabling it to spread from one computer to another, leaving infections as it travel. Almost all Viruses are attached to an executable file, which means the virus may exist on your computer bur it actually cannot infect your computer unless you run or open the malicious program.
- Trojan horse – A Trojan Horse is full of as much trickery as the mythological Trojan horse it was named after. At first glance the Trojan horse will appear as a useful software but will actually do damage once installed or run on your computer. The user is tricked into opening a Trojan horse which appear as a legitimate software or files from a legitimate source. Their effect on the computer vary from being more annoying than malicious (like changing your desktop or adding silly icons on your desktop) or they can cause serious damage by deleting files and destroying information on your system.
- Spyware – this is a software that surreptitiously gathers information and transmits it to interested parties. Types of information that is gathered includes the Websites visited, browser and system information, and your computer IP address.
- Adware – these are software that is financially supported (or financially supports another program) by displaying ads when you’re connected to the Internet.
- Worm – worms bear the same characteristics as the virus and consider to be similar. Worms spread from computer to computer but, unlike the virus, it has the capability to travel without any human action. A worm takes the advantage of file or information transport features on your system, which is what allows it to travel unaided. The biggest danger with a worm is its capability to replicate itself on your system, so rather than your computer sending out a single worm, it could send out hundreds or thousands of copies of itself, creating a huge devastating effect. One example would be for a worm to send a copy of itself to everyone listed in your e-mail address book. Then, the worm replicates and sends itself out to everyone listed in each of the receiver’s address book, and the manifest continues on down the line. Since worms have the capability of travelling across networks and their copying nature the end up consuming too much of system memory causing the computer to stop responding.
How to protect your computer malware in Kenya
Firstly always ensure your operating system is up-to-date. Secondly, you need to have an antivirus software installed on your computer system and ensure you update it frequently to ensure your software has the latest fixes of viruses, worms and Trojan horse. Ensure your anti-virus program has the capability to scan e-mails and files as they download from the internet. In addition run full disk scan and be cautious when surfing and stay away from suspicious websites.