The Virus Lab – What Is Malware and Why Does It Exist?

Malware – an umbrella term for any kind of malicious software designed to disrupt operation, steal information, or gain access to private computer systems. If you’re a regular computer user, you’ve probably stumbled across malware at some point.

cartoon drawing of a virus on a computer screen

Common Types of Malware

Once upon a time, creating malware was an individual pursuit by lone cybercriminals or black hat hackers. Today malware is a fully fledged industry with a global marketplace, and ultimately used to make a profit. Below are the three most some common types of malware you could get on your computer.


A computer virus is a software program that needs a host to replicate and spread. It is typically acquired through downloading malicious files with the intent of spreading itself to across various devices. Most viruses have similar traits: replicating, taking up power and space, and attaching to executable files.

You can read more about viruses here.


Trojan malware are named so because of their similarity to the Greek story of the Trojan Horse. This type of malware gains access to your computer through an inconspicuous download, which then spreads quickly to infect your device.

You can read more about trojans here.


Definitely the most malicious of the malware types, ransomware works to lock your computer and its files, only releasing them once a ransom is paid. People typically get ransomware through opening malicious emails and downloading malware files.

You can read up on ransomware here.

Other types of malware

Malware isn’t limited to just viruses, trojans, and ransomware – below you can find the extended list!

Malware is a fully-fledged and profitable industry with a global marketplace.

Effects of Malware

As we’ve mentioned before, there are several different types of malware, each with its own effects and outcome. Here are the different effects malware can have on your computer.

  • Gaining access to your computer and personal files. This can happen most commonly through a trojan the user has unknowingly downloaded.
  • Sending endless spam or ads to your email. Not only does this slow down computers and disrupt the user’s experience, but it also collects user data.
  • Taking control of your computer as a ‘botnet’. Essentially an army of computers that will attack a single target.
  • Collecting payment from a 3rd party. What might appear just to be a pop-up is actually a sophisticated and illegal process.

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How to tackle malware

Are you looking to prevent your computer from being riddled with viruses and trojans? Here are a few things you can do to make sure your computer is free from malware

  • Practice general computer safety – While this may seem like a no brainer, exercising computer safety is one of the best steps in malware prevention. If you feel like you need to brush up on your computer skills, you can check out our internet safety guide here.
  • Invest in a solid antivirus, like McAfee Total Protection – one of the best ways to prevent malware is to simply get an antivirus program. These programs actively scan your computer; not only preventing malware from hopping onto your computer, but making sure that no malicious files are hidden.

    We recommend using FixMeStick’s most trusted antivirus program, McAfee Total Protection. Not only is it one of the best antiviruses out there, but we also offer a discount for FixMeStick customers!

    Check out McAfee Total Protection here.
  • Run a FixMeStick scan to get rid of any lingering malware – No matter strong your antivirus is, malware will always find a way onto your computer.

    The FixMeStick is an external, hardware device that runs before your computer starts enabling it to remove viruses, spyware, trojans, rootkits, and malware that anti-virus programs often cannot. You should run your FixMeStick to be 100% sure you don’t have any lingering threats.

    Learn more about the FixMeStick today!