Written by Charles Peacock
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Malware, short for "malicious software," is a term that applies to any software that is specifically designed to do harm to your computer. There are many types of malware, the most obvious examples being viruses, trojan horses and spyware programs. Each of these causes its own unique problems, and each requires a special set of tools to remove it from your system.

The Different Types of Malware

Computer viruses are the most well-known kind of malware, and they are often capable of doing the most damage. Viruses are designed to infect your computer without you knowing it, and they can do everything from erasing your hard drive to performing simple pranks. Anti-virus programs are the best way to keep your computer clean of viruses, and if you don't already have one installed you should get one soon.

Trojan horses are similar to viruses, and can in fact contain viruses. Their design is what gives them their name: they are basically malicious programs disguised to look like something you might want. Trojans are typically designed to look like games or useful applications. As soon as you open the program, however, it installs spyware, a virus or another type of malware on your system.

We don't hear as much about spyware as we do about traditional viruses, but the reality is that spyware can have disastrous effects as well. Designed to collect personal information and browsing habits, spyware has the ability to tell other people about you without your permission or knowledge. If you're trying to rid your system of spyware, keep in mind that you'll need special anti-spyware software. Most anti-virus programs do not have the capability to remove spyware.

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