MALWARE AND ITS EFFECTS ON COMPUTER PRIVACY AND SECURITY
The Internet is a system of interconnected networks able to continually amplify its range of sites surpassing its predecessor, the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency) which was developed by the American military in the 60’s (Abbate, 2000). It has progressed, with the social and economic aspect of its use becoming complex, with illegal activities reaching even the depths of cyberspace – “cybercrime” and the culprits, the “cybercriminals”, have appeared.
One cybercrime is malware writing. From mere pranks and the need to establish a reputation among adolescents at school or at work, the goal of malware writing has then changed into the goal of acquiring large sums of money in short time spans, i.e. organized crime and terrorist groups through extortion and the like, and the realization of companies of efficient strategies for advertising scam products (Bocij, 2006) or for harmless purposes like marketing statistics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware).
The malware writer creates malware which destroys data and locates and sends back sensitive information. With most people likely to be infected, malware have become one of the most common online security risks causing adverse effects on computer privacy and security.
The aim of this report is to discuss malware, its most common variations, its effects on computer privacy and security, and those who are most likely at risk of malware infection. Malware, derived from the term “malicious software”, is a term used to associate all software applications that cause damage or destruction to systems, computers, networks, and the like (Brown, 2011). The most common kinds of malware are spyware, adware, virus, and spam. The spyware is a type of malware installed on computers designed to discretely steal exploitable information and send the information, such as passwords, finances and Internet activities, to the malware writer. They can be detected by a computer’s security scan program. These kinds of malware are delivered through online activities (like blogs, installations, and e-mail), viruses, and the like (Brown, 2011). Another malware is the adware which is any software package which renders advertisements automatically (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyware). It is completely different from the spyware. The adware is intrusive because it allows advertisements to pop-up in the browser or even in the desktop. Though, unlike other malware, not all adware is installed maliciously and, at times, actually embedded as part of another software application or device. These installations are used as marketing strategy by companies for the reduction of software development costs through advertising, i.e. in a new computer, most likely to be filled with adware for third-party software and hardware solutions. An advisable solution would be to set up a new, clean version of the operating system or eliminate all adware before creating a network connection (Brown, 2011). A virus is programmed to damage or destroy system files, networks, operating systems, et al. It is programmed to multiply and propagate itself through various means, primarily through e-mail but also through transmission on discs and flash drives, and remain inside hard drives or in data files. E-mails can be attached with viruses without the sender’s knowledge of the e-mails being infected (Brown, 2011). Viruses are most commonly executable files (files ending in .exe) and, when selected, execute and run launching programs for software applications which must be actuated, usually by opening of an e-mail by a recipient, for it to run. Viruses are often disguised as something else, such as an image or .HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language, the primary language for Web pages that is also used to format pages...
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