SpyWare, Malware, Ransomware? Where do I start?

Everyday Computer Threats

If you are looking to stay safe then I’m sure you have heard all these terms before. I’m sure we all know that these are things that we do not want on our computer, but do you know what you are really worrying about?

In order to stay safe it’s always crucial to understand your threats. So today we want to help you identify some of the differences between cyber attacks and understand the lingo involved in staying safe online. 


Malware is the top of the umbrella. SpyWare is a type of Malware, not the other way around.

Malware is essentially a program or code that is designed to attack another user. It is what defines basically all cyber attacks. It is unwanted code that can be downloaded on it’s own, or snuck in through other means. All attacks on your computer are going to be some sort of malware attack.


A virus is basically a piece of code that attaches itself to data or software. These can be complicated because they can change, alter, freeze, spread, or otherwise cause growing problems. Using anti-virus software can be a great way to combat these from entering and destroying your system.


Basically the same thing as a virus, but they are pretending to be someone else. The name is based on the trojan horse attack used by the Greeks. 

For example, you want to download a movie and find a file online. However, when you download the movie it also comes along with a file hidden away that contains the trojan. Once you have downloaded the file that you think you wanted you have also downloaded an attack on your own computer. 

This hidden attack can be hard to spot which is why you have to be careful with what you download online.


This is a malware attack that hides inside your system and steals information. This information can be transmitted back to the attacker without your knowing. 

Spyware is used by attackers to gain information, usually before a bigger attack. They can track software and interactions, find weakness in your system, track financial interactions, and get the information they need to attack successfully.


This is a malware attack that will freeze or encrypt your data until a ransom is paid. This has become increasingly popular as a way to leverage large organizations for large lump sums. The general piece of wisdom is to not pay your attack, because there is no guarantee that you will get your data back. There is also a growing black market for this kind of attack just because it can be so easy and effective.


Worms are malware programs that multiply once deployed. They can be extremely hard to remove as they grow and infect more of your system. They are usually not used to extract money, but instead used as an effective destructive force.


This is NOT a malware attack, but we think it’s extremely important to be familiar with phishing. Phishing is the act of tricking someone into revealing crucial information, or inviting unwanted software into your system. Phishing attempts range from the extremely easy, to extremely difficult to spot. 

For this reason it is so important to understand common phishing practices and stay up to date with new tactics. Phishing is the most common way that someone will add Malware to their system.

If you are interested in securing your online safety then please give us a call today. Together we can make your network secure from those who wish to attack you the most. 


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