Malware Explained: What Is It & How Does It Work?


Malware is malicious for a reason. It continues to wreak havoc on computer data, networks, or servers, stealing or even holding entire systems at ransom. Worse, there are many types of malware to be aware of. Fortunately, we’ll cover all the main ones here.

What does malware do?

At the bare minimum, it can:

  • Slow down your PC
  • Freeze or crash applications
  • Inject excessive pop-ups
  • Corrupt, delete or steal data
  • Format hard drives
  • Change account settings
  • Restrict access to your entire computer system

Of course, it is capable of much more complex operations, given the many existing types of it.

Malware vs. virus: what should you know

Malware is an all-encompassing name for any harmful computer program, while a virus is a type of it.

What are the types of malware?

Let’s now look at the different kinds of malware attacks.


This is the most common form of malware, duplicating itself autonomously and spreading across multiple computers.


It spies on its target and sends data to a third party. Yet, not all spyware is malicious, as some are used for commercial reasons.

Fileless malware

This stealthy malicious software seeks to blend into an operating system’s existing applications and tools. It leaves limited traces in the computer, meaning malware detection becomes challenging.


A Trojan or Trojan horse is malware downloaded onto an operating system cloaked as a seemingly harmless program, thereby hiding its detrimental intent.


A worm and a virus are pretty similar in that they can spread exponentially. However, a worm can do this without activation once it has entered a system, while a virus needs the user to activate it first.


This is a collection of internet devices running one or several bots. Botnets can be used positively for things like indexing search engines. However, their darker side involves stealing data, spamming, gaining unauthorized access to a computer, and initiating DDoS attacks.

Browser hijackers

A browser hijacker is made to alter a person’s browser’s settings without consent, often spamming you with ads or redirecting the user to dangerous websites.


Ransomware is created to extort money from users by threatening to release personal information, encrypt files or permanently restrict access to their computer operations.


A rootkit offers a hacker remote control of the target’s operating system with complete administrative access.


This malware enters a person’s computer and uses their machine’s resources to mine crypto without their knowledge.

Logic bombs

A logic bomb is a harmful code typically found in a virus or worm that carries out dangerous operations after a specified time or when other conditions are fulfilled.


It is a form of spyware that monitors a user’s keystrokes. It can be used for good and malicious reasons, like stealing passwords and other valuable information.


It is another kind of spyware that presents ads on a web page, usually in pop-up form.


Scareware uses fear and shock to trick the user that their computer is virus-infected and then provides fake malicious software that they buy or download to solve the issue.

Mobile malware

As the term suggests, this malware targets mobile devices like phones, smartwatches, and tablets.


Education and awareness will help prevent you from becoming a victim of these many cyber attacks. A common thread with harmful software is the invasion of data.

Duckist understands this concept regarding sharing passwords and other confidential files via communication services like email and instant messengers. Each transfer is encrypted so no third party can see the content. For further protection, the link self-destructs once viewed.