Malware is a catch-all phrase that includes any unwanted, undesirable, or otherwise malicious software. It comes in many forms: virus, worm, trojan, rootkit, spyware, and adware are the most common.  I know how malware programs are written and how they function in your system.   I use the most advanced techniques for getting rid of the nastiest of them without losing any of your personal data or programs.  Call me before you let someone wipe out your system.

A computer virus can duplicate by attaching itself to other files on your computer and spreading to other computers either by the Internet, or by some storage medium such as a flash drive, CD, or DVD.  A virus may or may not have symptoms that are noticeable to a computer user and may harm computer data and performance.

A Worm is also self-replicating but does not attach itself to other files on your computer like a virus.  A worm, instead, exploits computer vulnerabilities on a network or the Internet to spread to other machines. A worm is commonly used to send out SPAM mail from an infected machine and generally don't directly harm the infected machine, although some forms have been known to do so.

A Trojan (a.k.a. Trojan Horse) does not replicate itself or spread to other computers. It masquerades as a desirable program to the computer user, but in truth has malicious intent such as stealing personal information or allowing remote access. One common example of a Trojan is rogue security software.  Trojans are usually noticeable to the computer user and may or may not harm data.

Some consider rootkits the grand-daddy of malware. They do not replicate and are usually installed by an attacker by cracking a password, deciphering an encryption, or exploiting a vulnerability.  Rootkits can be tucked away deep into the computer system and hide themselves quite well from System Administrators, computer users, and security software. Security software on an infected machine cannot be trusted to perform properly and may not catch a rootkit infection.  Detection and removal is difficult and needs to be done by a VERY experienced individual, such as myself.  Once installed, rootkits can grant a hacker remote access to an infected machine and can be used for a variety of purposes, often to hide other forms of malware on the machine that may be stealing passwords and other personal information.

Just as the term implies, spyware collects personal information such as passwords and browsing habits but may also secretly install other malware, hijack browsers, change home pages, change computer settings, and cause a machine to lose it's Internet connection. Spyware does not replicate and may be installed in a number of ways including being bundled with other software that is downloaded and installed by the user, misleading a user into thinking the software is desirable, and exploits in web browsers (most notably Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Sun Microsystem's Java runtime engine).  An infected machine usually has multiple forms of Spyware infections leading to poor system performance.  A machine infected with Spyware usually suffers from Adware infections also.

Adware deals with marketing and may be legitimate, however, when coupled with Spyware, the adware can become quite annoying. An infected machine may display unwanted pop-up advertisements or have  browser hijacking.  Adware in itself is usually not harmful to a computer, however, some types of Adware, along with Spyware, use fraudelent techniques like Scareware , Rogue Security Software, and keyloggers (Crimeware) to steal personal information.

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