Pretty much every computer user at some point had a bad experience with malware. But what is malware? How can you protect yourself from it? Learn about malware here in this post.

Malware describes all types of malicious software programs, from spyware and adware to viruses and browser hijackers. Some types of malware may be relatively harmless and merely annoying while others types of malware can be very dangerous. Here is a short introduction about what malware is and how you can protect yourself from it.


Malware (short for “malicious software”) is a general term which describes all types of malicious software that can infect a computer. Less dangerous types of malware, such as adware, may cause nuisances such as popups when you surf the internet or they may slow down your computer. However, there are types of malware which can cause significant harm. Cyber criminals can use malware to steal personal information and then use this information to commit identity theft, for stealing money or intellectual property.

What all types of malware have in common is they cause harm in one or the other form and that you don’t want it on your computer. Most malware infiltrates your computer without your knowledge and once you are infected it can be very difficult to get rid of it again. Among the various types of malware is spyware, adware, viruses, phishing scams, browser hijacks, rootkits and worms.


Most of the time, malware will get to your computer through the internet. There are many ways how this could happen. Malware can come from hacked or malicious websites, from software that you download, from game demos, toolbars and even from email and instant messaging.


An infection with many types of malware is not always obvious. Only certain kinds of malware may show visible signs that you may be infected, such as pop-ups, unwanted browser toolbars, computer crashes or your computer and internet becoming very slow.


In many cases, only a thorough scan with a good anti-malware software can detect whether you’re infected with malware and is able to eliminate it from your computer.


While having a good and reliable anti-malware software program is without question the best (and sometimes only) way to detect and remove malware, there are some things that you can do to reduce the risk for an infection:

  • Do not open attachments from emails especially if you don’t know the source.
  • Don’t download software to your computer if it comes from untrustworthy websites and be especially careful when you get software from file-sharing websites.
  • Don’t run software that you download from the internet without having it checked for viruses first.
  • If you download and install freeware and shareware, always read the license agreement carefully since this type of free software often comes bundled with some type of malware.
  • Use an internet firewall like the one from your operating system or the firewall from your anti-malware software.
  • Always keep your computer operating system and your web browser up-to-date with the latest patches and security fixes.