Feb 08 2011

Virus Dictionary

The Virus Dictionary(Malware Dictionary, to be technical) displays terms associated with computer/Windows security and Windows virus protection and malware protection. Hopefully, once you read about what these threats actually are, you will be more prepared to deal with them and protect your system from them.


Adware- Adware by itself is little more than a nuisance. Adware is made up of advertisements that are either displayed in your web browser or downloaded to your computer. Companies use these to get a person interested in and to link to their product. These may be displayed as pop-up windows, which can be very annoying when using the internet. If adware is combined with spyware or other malware, then it can cause a serious problem. Spyware is defined below.

Encryption – Transforming readable data into a form that cannot be read by other programs unless a specific key is used to decode the data.

Firewall – A piece of software(program) or hardware that is used to limit or halt data traveling to or from a specific network or computer. From Windows XP onward, Windows is pre-loaded with a firewall called, the profound name of, Windows Firewall. Also, nowadays, many anti-malware programs come equipped with a firewall. They are a crucial part of any security system.

Grayware- When you can't really tell if something is for sure good or bad, then it's in the gray. There's not an affirmative or a negative answer. Hence, the use of the word gray in grayware. Programs that some classify as grayware may do things that the user may be annoyed by. However, the actions the program in question takes may not be serious or illegal. But these are unwanted programs. And they may even have detrimental effects on system performance. Basically, grayware are suspicious programs that may be illegal and should be avoided. And they can include spyware, adware, scareware and others.

Hacker- (The Black Hat type)- A hacker is someone who illegaly breaks security to enter networks or computers they do not have the right to. Hackers may also create and install malware on these computers and networks for illegal gain.

Heuristic- Heuristics are algorithms in programs that solve problems and come up with answers that may not be right. This is different from other programs that are either right or wrong. Heuristics involve educated guesses. Since no one knows every malware program ever created, anti-malware software uses heuristics when scanning and protecting against viruses to prevent a potential threat from causing harm to a system.

Keylogger- Keyloggers a small programs that record key presses on a keyboard. They can be used to retrieve personal information such as passwords, credit and debit numbers, social security numbers. The list goes on. These can be purely software or hardware with a program that connects to the keyboard port of a computer. That's another reason why one must be careful when using public computers. Avoid inputting personal information on a public computer if at all possible.

Malware- Any program created with the intent of causing negative effects on a user's computer, or theft of information is malware. This software accesses the user's system without consent. It encompasses all types of bad software including spyware, root-kits, adware, viruses, and trojans. These programs range from a program created to scamming you into paying for some useless thing, to causing your computer to crash, to stealing confidential information. It is imperative to protect against being infected by these malicious programs by using anti malware software and by practicing safe computer using habits.

Payload- The payload of  malware is the malicious code in the program that, when executed, carries out what the hacker wants to do after exploiting the target computer or network.

Phishing- Like fishing, phishing is when a criminal baits a person into giving them personal information or data through websites. Emails are also used with the purpose of getting the user to reveal personal information. This is a main practice in stealing identities.

Pop-up- These are advertisements that appear automatically, without user solicitation, onto a screen. They open in new windows and many times contain forms to input email addresses an other information personal to the user in order to gain access to that user. If, for example, the user inputs an email address into the pop up form, then the creator of the pop up has access to the user's email allowing them to send spam to that address. Many websites use pop ups, and not all pop ups are bad. However, malicious sites use them to gather information and transfer malware to computers. Sometimes one pop up will trigger the opening of another.

Rootkit- Rootkits are very dangerous malware. They are installed deep in operating systems and can become invisible to the operating system while they run. This makes them extremely hard to detect after they are installed. It also allows the rootkit near unlimited privileges on the computer. Thus the computer can make system level changes without the user knowing. Sometimes, removal may be impossible, causing the user to uninstall and reinstall the operating system.

Safemode- This is a mode in the Windows operating system where Windows only loads the essential software and drivers for the system to run. In this mode, users can troubleshoot affected systems much more easily most of the time because the virus has not loaded and is not running. To access, the user most press the F8 key before Windows boots.

Scareware- Scareware is malware that tries to make the user think that their system is infected by some malware and that the only way to fix it is to buy and install a certain anti malware program(the scareware itself). The irony is that the program that is telling you this is what really has infected the computer. Much of the time scareware is fairly harmless, however, it can do things like block access to the internet and crucial areas on your computer. That alone makes it enough of a serious problem.

Social Engineering- One of the most powerful and effective ways of taking control of a computer system or network, social engineering can break even the most hardened of software and hardware defenses… by bypassing them altogether. Social engineering uses "old-fashioned" tactics to gain information and access to systems via employees at the targeted organization or just computer users. The attacker uses social prowess to get information from private information from unknowing employees. This information is then used to access the network. From there, the attacker may possibly be able to access, take control of, and retrieve any private information necessary to carry out their sinister task.

Spyware- Spyware is a program that, when it is installed, attempts to retrieve personal information without the user's knowledge. Many of the spyware progams are hidden in adware. Keyloggers are also a type of spyware. Spyware may also cause an internet browser to redirect to certain sites, track user habits, or even download additional malware.

System Restore- System Restore is a program that was first included in Windows ME. It is a useful program designed to rollback a Windows system to a previous, stable state if it has been affected by something that causes it to lose stability or cease to function correctly. One would usually use System Restore to get rid of negative affects caused by installed software such as malware. Sometimes using System Restore will fix the problem if it is malware. However, other times it will not since many malware programs plant themselves in System Restore and are restored themselves.

Trojan- Trojans are programs that disguise themselves as useful and good, yet steals information or causes damage to a computer when it is run. It can do multiple things(like other types of malware). It may display advertisements through uncontrollable pop ups or even install other programs such as toolbars. They may also allow hackers remote access to and control over your computer.

Virus- A virus is malicious software that can replicate itself and is infectious; it can be transferred between computers. Much of the time it causes damage to a computer by destroying data and causing it to make the computer unusable. Some viruses cause "symptoms" on a computer, thereby allowing the user to know it is infected. However, many viruses are hidden and may have no viewable effect.

Worm- A worm is a program that replicates itself(like a virus) and sends copies to other computers along a network. This can be done automatically without any intervention by the worm's creator. These worms are used to exploit security holes in programs. They do not need a host file to work; they can work independently. Worms have been used in the past to cripple networks by using massive amounts of bandwidth and carry payloads, which can harm computers.

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