Page written by AI. Reviewed internally on April 19, 2024.


Malware, short for malicious software, refers to any software specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to computer systems, networks, or devices. 

What is malware?

Malware represents a significant cybersecurity threat, posing risks to individuals, businesses, and organisations worldwide.

Types of malware:

  • Viruses: Malware that attaches itself to legitimate programs or files and replicates when the infected program or file is executed.
  • Worms: Self-replicating malware that spreads across networks, exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems or software.
  • Trojans: Malware disguised as legitimate software or files, which may include backdoors, keyloggers, or remote access tools.
  • Ransomware: Malware that encrypts files or locks down systems, demanding payment for decryption or restoration of access.
  • Spyware: Malware designed to covertly monitor and collect sensitive information, such as passwords, browsing history, or keystrokes, often for malicious purposes.
  • Adware: Malware that displays unwanted advertisements or redirects users to harmful websites, potentially generating revenue for the attacker.
  • Rootkits: Malware that provides unauthorised access to a computer or network while concealing its presence and activities from detection.

Effective cybersecurity measures can help prevent malware infections, including using reputable antivirus software, keeping systems and software updated with security patches, implementing firewalls and intrusion detection systems, and educating users about safe computing practices.

Antivirus software and other security tools can also help detect and remove malware infections from systems. However, some sophisticated malware variants may dodge detection or require manual removal techniques.

Example of malware

A user receives an email with an attachment claiming to be an invoice from a legitimate company. Upon opening the attachment, a Trojan malware is executed, silently installing itself on the user’s computer. The Trojan then begins to collect sensitive information from the user’s system and sends it to a remote server controlled by cybercriminals.

In this example, the Trojan horse malware disguises itself as a harmless file attachment but actually carries out harmful activities, compromising the security and privacy of the user’s computer.

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