Malware is a very general term. It applies to every kind of software that can harm your devices or steal data. Therefore, it helps to know about the types of malware to better understand what you are dealing with and how to fix it.
A virus is malware that is attached to some other type of software. Whenever the user runs the virus, usually accidentally by running the software it is attached to, the virus will replicate itself by adding itself to other programs on the user's system.
Ransomware is a common type of malware that encrypts a user's system or locks them out of their device. It then forces the user to pay a ransom to access their device or data again. Using this type of malware is on the rise because attackers can demand payment in cryptocurrency, which is relatively untraceable. This kind of attack makes ransomware an almost perfect crime.
Hackers have increasingly started targeting businesses with ransomware attacks, while ransomware incidents on personal computers have slowed down. Attackers have found that enterprises are a much more lucrative target. Also, an enterprise network gives ransomware a chance to spread and infect more than just the original device.
Computer worms are malware that are like viruses in that they can self-replicate. But instead of only infecting software on a specific device, they can spread across a network to other systems with no user action to activate them.
Spyware is any type of malicious software that spies on the user of a system. They can do this by using a keylogger to capture all the user's keystrokes or by similar methods to steal the user's data from the file system. The spyware then sends this data remotely to the author of the software.
Trojans are software that masquerades as legitimate software, but behind the scenes are doing malicious things. Once a trojan horse is on your device, the attackers using it can gain unauthorized access to your system. Once this happens, the attackers can use the trojan to do multiple things, such as stealing personal and financial data to installing one of the other forms of malware.
Adware is unwanted software that displays advertisements. Often this type of malware will infect a browser. The adware will usually masquerade as some useful type of software but will serve ads to make money for the software's author. Adware, while usually not malicious, can be frustrating, annoying, and slow down your work.
Exploits take advantage of vulnerabilities or bugs in well-known software and allow attackers to infiltrate systems they wouldn't normally have access to. Patches and updates to software usually fix these vulnerabilities, but it takes time to develop a patch. Until patches are applied, systems are vulnerable and malware developers will take advantage of this.