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What is a Virus?

A virus is a manmade program or piece of code that causes an unexpected, usually negative, event. Viruses are often disguised games or images with clever marketing titles such as "Me, nude."

What is Spyware?

Spyware is a wide range of unwanted programs that exploit infected computers for commercial gain. They can deliver unsolicited pop-up advertisements, steal personal information (including financial information such as credit card numbers), monitor web-browsing activity for marketing purposes, or route HTTP requests to advertising sites.

What is Spam?

Spam is unsolicited or undesired bulk electronic messages. There is email spam, instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, web search-engine spam, spam in blogs, and mobile phone-messaging spam. Spam includes legitimate advertisements, misleading advertisements, and phishing messages designed to trick recipients into giving up personal and financial information.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a form of criminal activity using social engineering techniques through email or instant messaging. Phishers attempt to fraudulently acquire other people’s personal information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business in an apparently official electronic communication.

What is Adware?

Adware is a legitimate, non-replicating program designed to display ads to the end user, often based on monitoring of browsing habits, and often in exchange for the right to use a program without paying for it (a take on the shareware concept).

What is a Trojan Horse?

Trojan horse program is a malicious program that pretends to be a benign application; a Trojan horse program purposefully does something the user does not expect. Trojans are not viruses since they do not replicate, but Trojan horse programs can be just as destructive.

Many people use the term to refer only to non-replicating malicious programs, thus making a distinction between Trojans and viruses.

What is a Worm?

Computer Worms are viruses that reside in the active memory of a computer and duplicate themselves. They may send copies of themselves to other computers, such as through email or Internet Relay Chat (IRC).

What is Malware?

Malware is a generic term used to describe malicious software such as viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, and malicious active content.

What is a Virus Hoax?

Virus hoaxes are not viruses, but are usually emails warning people about a virus or other malicious software program. Some hoaxes cause as much trouble as viruses by causing massive amounts of unnecessary email.

Most hoaxes contain one or more of the following characteristics:

    Warnings about alleged new viruses and their damaging consequences

    Demands that the reader forward the warning to as many people as possible
    Pseudo-technical "information" describing the virus
    Bogus comments from officials: FBI, software companies, news agencies, etc.

If you receive an email message about a virus, check with a reputable source to ensure the warning is real. Click here to learn about hoaxes and the damage they cause. Sometimes hoaxes start out as viruses and some viruses start as hoaxes, so both viruses and virus hoaxes should be considered a threat.

What is a Hacker?

A hacker is a person who creates and modifies computer software and hardware, including computer programming, administration, and security-related items. This can be done for either negative or positive reasons. Criminal hackers create malware in order to commit crimes. Also see: malware, cyber criminals, cyber gangs.

What is a Payload?

Payload refers to the effects produced by a virus attack. It sometimes refers to a virus associated with a dropper or Trojan horse.

What is a Firewall?

A firewall prevents computers on a network from communicating directly with external computer systems. A firewall typically consists of a computer that acts as a barrier through which all information passing between the networks and the external systems must travel. The firewall software analyzes information passing between the two and rejects it if it does not conform to pre-configured rules.

What is Encryption?

Encryption is the scrambling of data so that it becomes difficult to unscramble and interpret.

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