What is malware, how it works, and how to remove it?

Ruheni Mathenge Last updated: September 21, 2022 Read time: 13 minutes Disclosure

If your computer or any other device has a malware infection, this guide explains what it is, and how to get rid of the malware quickly.

The term ‘malware’ refers to any malicious software designed to intentionally manipulate or interrupt a device’s normal functionality. These include viruses, ransomware, worms, spyware, Trojans, and adware. Unfortunately, they can infect any device with computing capabilities like your smartphone, PC, laptop, tablet, and servers.

The first malware to be developed was utterly harmless. However, the advancement of technology, computing, and software development has made malware more prevalent and sophisticated.

Read along to learn how malware works, how it gets into your computer, how to remove malware quickly, and much more.

What is the implication of malware?

Malware is meant to infect devices and networks to harm them or their users somehow. It can come in different ways depending on the type of malware and its goal. For instance, it can be a low-risk program arriving via ads, or something severe impersonating legit software to trick users.

Regardless of the method, all malware types benefit the hacker at the user’s expense and device. Cybercriminals use malware to render computers inoperable, steal passwords, and delete files. It can cause many issues that affect daily operations and the long-term security of users.

Types of malware 

There is a wide variety of malware, and new ones keep coming up daily. Here is a list of some of the most common malware types. 

  1. Viruses – These are malicious programs that work by modifying other files in your computer to spread. Different types of viruses exist, but they all spread similarly. 
  2. Spyware – This program enables criminals to access your passwords, keystrokes, and other sensitive information. Note that some spyware types are more perverse than others. For example, those used to monitor loved ones’ devices are less sophisticated than those hackers use to steal bank credentials. 
  3. Ransomware – These are programs that hackers use to encrypt crucial files on the victim’s computer and demand payment to decrypt them. They are also known as ‘crypto-lockers‘. Ransomware can be overwhelming to large organizations, with some of them losing millions in damages
  4. Rootkits and bootkits – Rootkits are incredibly advanced as they infect the lowest levels and highly trusted computer code. On the other hand, bootkits affect even lower (or initial) levels of the system, such as the boot process. 
  5. Bot – Criminals use botnets to control many computers simultaneously remotely. Actually, these botnets are commonly used for distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on systems and websites. A device is infected with bot malware to join the botnet
  6. Adware – This is the least malicious malware type as it just displays ads on your device. However, don’t disregard adware because sometimes it can be bundled with more sophisticated malware.
  7. Worms – These malware types can migrate from one machine to another by exploiting security weaknesses. Making it worse, they function on their own without requiring user intervention. 
  8. Trojans – These malicious programs steal personal information, launch an attack, spy on activities and even crash the device.

How does malware spread?