The different types of Malware

January 12, 2018 | News

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Malware is the title given to any computer software which is intended to do damage – Malicious Software.




  • software which is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain authorized access to a computer system.


These strands of malware spy on you.

  • Adware: Adware displays advertisements on your computer. It is designed to follow your activity and show you things that you are likely to click on. Clicking on the ad then downloads more sinister malware. Look out for any ads with unusual format, colours or ads that flicker.
  • Spyware: Spyware logs your activity learning your interests and habits. Your information can then be used against you. Malware attacks often involving ransom, manipulation and social engineering.
  • Keyloggers: Keyloggers record what you type in order to glean usernames, passwords and other sensitive information. They are particularly dangerous when banking online. Variants of keyloggers are also used by businesses for market research.
  • Browser Hijacker: This variant of Malware can redirect your normal internet search to where the criminal wants you to go. It is done with subtlety so that you are distracted and don't notice anything unusual.

Worms and Viruses

Computer worms and viruses are similar. They replicate functional copies of themselves causing a similar type of damage.

  • Virus: A Virus is a piece of Malware which attaches itself to another piece of software or file. It then replicates itself uncontrollably when the software is run, clogging up your computer, damaging files and completely slowing it down. Viruses are spread through sharing infected files.
  • Worm: A worm is very similar to a virus. It replicates within a system, slowing it down and damaging files. A worm is more dangerous however as it does not need a host program to travel across a network.

These three malware strands facilitate larger scale malware attacks. They are essentially a landing base for an attack to operate from.

  • Trojan: A Trojan is a malware strand that is disguised as useful software, enticing the user to install it onto their PC. The term comes from ancient Greece and the Trojan horse - used to invade the city of Troy.
  • Backdoors: A backdoor provides a network connection for hackers or other Malware to enter a computer system. Backdoors are sometimes left in software purposefully by designers for debugging purposes.
  • Rootkit: A rootkit is malware specifically designed to permit malware that gathers information – spyware - into your system. As with many malware forms, they are designed to remain hidden as they work.

Cryptocurrency Mining

  • CoinHive: This program is designed to reside in websites. It infects the computer of visitors to the website, using their computing power to mine online currency without their knowledge.
    With the value of online currencies soaring, malware of this nature is becoming increasingly common.


  • Ransomware: This form of Malware encrypts the data on a computer leaving the files inaccessible. A warning is displayed informing the users they will need to pay a ransom to regain access. All eventualities should be exhausted before paying a ransom as there is no guarantee that you will receive your data back.

Rogue Security Software

  • Rogue security software: This malware strand deceives users. While posing as a program that removes Malware, it is in fact the Malware itself. Often it turns off the real anti-malware program, allowing other malware strands access.


  • Bots: Bots are software programs that are designed to automatically perform specific operations. When infected with a bot, computers can be controlled remotely. Connecting multiple computers into what’s called a Botnet enables large scale DDOS and Phishing attacks to be carried out.

Our recommended anti-malware product Sophos - Intercept X will protect you against each of these Malware strands.

Intercept X is equipped with AI meaning it will learn continuously and find malware that hasn't even been invented yet…

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