According to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Threat Report, “With more than 317 million new pieces of malware created in 2014, or close to 1 million new pieces of unique malware each day, the overall total number of malware is now 1.7 billion.”

In fact, in some countries more than 50% of computers are infected with some kind of malware. Malware has grown so sophisticated that it has been known to disrupt and harm the physical side of public utilities as well as corrupting and stealing data, thus crossing from the cyber to the physical domain.

(Yep, it is that scary.)

It’s important to know about the different kinds of viruses and malware so you can easily detect if your computer has been infected and learn how to prevent future attacks. The following are 11 different types of malware you need to be aware of:

1. Adware

Adware is the least dangerous and most lucrative form of malware – it merely displays ads on your screen. More annoying than anything.

2. Backdoors

Backdoors are a specific kind of Trojan or worm. They open a digital “backdoor” into a computer, providing unauthorized access to a network.

3. Browser Hijackers

A Browser Hijacker resets your browser settings. This is especially dangerous when banking or shopping online. These homepages can look harmless, but in almost every case, more infectious malware follows.

4. Keyloggers

Keylogger software can record and transmit everything typed on a computer.  These can be used to steal login credentials and other sensitive information. One legitimate use, however, is with parental control software, which helps parents protect their kids by monitoring their online behavior!

5. PUPs

PUPs, Potentially Unwanted Programs, are generally not harmful but still software you don’t need or want. Plus, they can eat up your system resources and turn a perfectly good computer into a snail.

6. Ransomware

Ransomware warns you that you have been locked out of your computer, or the data has been encrypted until you pay a fine or other fee. Pay nothing. Accept the fact that your machine is badly infected or the data has become inaccessible. Be thankful that you always have a recent backup on a separate device.

7. Scareware

Rogue security software, sometimes called Scareware, pretends to be a good program to remove Malware infections, but it is actually the malware itself! Often it will turn off the real anti-malware software.

8. Spyware

Spyware is software that can track your internet activities and send adware back to your system. Worse, it could turn on your camera and microphone without your knowledge!

9. Trojan Horses

A Trojan Horse is a piece of software that is secretly installed on your computer or mobile device. It can be designed to do anything a malicious programmer chooses.

10. Viruses

A virus is a self-reproducing piece of software. It might be harmful, or not, depending upon its payload.

11. Worms

A worm is a program that replicates itself. Some destroy data and files in their path. Others just clog computer resources.

Set your anti-malware software to scan everything you download, all incoming and outgoing email, and set it to update as often as possible!  Never bypass or remove anti-virus or anti-malware software.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! We’re sharing some funny images about malware throughout September, and will be compiling them into a free PDF at the end of the month. It’s a good opportunity to learn more or to teach someone else!

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