This pie chart shows that in 2011, 70% of malware infections were by Trojan horses, 17% were from viruses, 8% from worms, with the remaining percentages divided among adware, backdoor, spyware, and other exploits.
Malware, short for malicious software, is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of harmful or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software. Malware is defined by its malicious intent, acting against the requirements of the computer user — and so does not include software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency.

Programs supplied officially by companies can be considered malware if they secretly act against the interests of the computer user. An example is the Sony rootkit, a Trojan horse embedded into CDs sold by Sony, which silently installed and concealed itself on purchasers' computers with the intention of preventing illicit copying; it also reported on users' listening habits, and unintentionally created vulnerabilities that were exploited by unrelated malware.

Antivirus software and firewalls are used to protect against malicious activity, and to recover from attacks.

Many early infectious programs, including the first Internet Worm, were written as experiments or pranks. Today, malware is used by both black hat hackers and governments, to steal personal, financial, or business information.

Malware is sometimes used broadly against government or corporate websites to gather guarded information, or to disrupt their operation in general. However, malware can be used against individuals to gain information such as personal identification numbers or details, bank or credit card numbers, and passwords.

Since the rise of widespread broadband Internet access, malicious software has more frequently been designed for profit. Since 2003, the majority of widespread viruses and worms have been designed to take control of users' computers for illicit purposes. Infected "zombie computers" can be used to send email spam, to host contraband data such as child pornography, or to engage in distributed denial-of-service attacks as a form of extortion.

This page was last edited on 18 February 2018, at 02:25.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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