Malware: The most common types and how to protect yourself from them

the different types of malware and how to protect them
the different types of malware and how to protect them

Last updated: June 14, 2024

Today, I want to talk to you about an important subject: malware. These naughty little rascals who roam the internet and who only want to cause us problems!

Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware… the list is long and the damage they can cause is significant: data theft, paralysis of our devices, and much more.

So, how can you tell the difference and how can you protect yourself? Don't panic, we'll see it together!

First, what is malware?

Malware, a contraction of “malicious software”, refers to any computer program or file designed to harm a system, disrupt its operation, steal information or allow an attacker to access resources without authorization.

Malware can take various forms, each having its own specificity and modus operandi. This is what we will see in the next section.

Malware List

Trojans and Backdoors

Trojan horses, commonly called Trojans, as well as backdoors, mainly aim to take remote control of a computer discreetly. Appearing in the 80s, Trojans were notably developed by the young German hacker Karl Koch.


Next, let’s move on to dialers. This type of malware installs without the user's knowledge and takes control of the modem. He performs calls to premium rate numbers or establishes connections to specific websites, usually to enrich its creator at the expense of the unsuspecting user.


Regarding spyware, it infiltrates a computer with the aim of collect and transfer information without the user's consent. Two main categories stand out: Adware and Keyloggers.

  • Adware : Adware, often installed without the Internet user's knowledge, aims to modify the browser's start page to display targeted advertisements by analyzing data from the host computer.
  • Keyloggers : Keyloggers, or keyloggers, capture and record keystrokes in a file which is subsequently transmitted to the author of the program via email or FTP server.

Computer Viruses

Viruses, often confused with other malware, are programs designed to self-reproduce by infecting other software. They are distinguished from worms, which spread across networks, infecting processes on the infected computer. Their impact diminishes in the face of other forms of malware.


Worms, for their part, spread through computer networks, exploiting the Internet in all its forms (emails, websites, etc.).


The Wabbit focuses on indefinite self-replication without infecting other programs or documents. This rapid multiplication capability can lead to memory saturation, forcing a crash of the system.


Downloaders, small executables, download other malicious programs, often trojans or rootkits, once launched on a computer.


Rootkits, sets of malware, aim to obtain root rights on a machine, install a backdoor, and erase all traces of their activities in log files.


An exploit allows a hacker toexploit a security vulnerability, whether remotely (remote exploit) or on the local machine where the exploit is executed.


Finally, rogues pose as free antiviruses, claiming that the computer is seriously infected and offering to disinfect it, thereby tricking the user into downloading fake antiviruses.

Protect yourself from this malware list

Keep the operating system up to date

Every day new security holes are discovered by hackers on different operating systems. These flaws are exploitable by using malware in order to infect your machine. So the more up-to-date your OS, the less potential there is to get infected.

Keep all PC software up to date

Like operating systems, all software on your PC must also be up to date.
The software most targeted by hackers are browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome), Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader, VLC.

Avoid the most famous traps of the internet

We must remain vigilant and careful with cracks, warez sites, pornographic sites and peer to peer.

Do not open email attachments unless you are absolutely sure of their safety. We have already seen in an article: find a person's IP address easily, the technique used by hackers to recover your IP address when opening an email.

While installing software, do not click “Next” without reading what is marked and what is checked.

Avoid USB keys

Avoid them as much as possible, and at best turn off USB ports, forget about them, and your PC is more likely to stay clean.

Use protection software

As Kevin Mitnick so wisely says: “The best antivirus is people.” However, it is very useful to have software capable of recognizing and removing malware. There are different types depending on the malware you want to protect against.

I share with you the 5 best free antivirus to protect your computer from the various malware we have seen previously.

But be aware that contrary to what the vast majority of people think, security software is not powerful enough to prevent all infections. There is no such thing as 100% security, we simply reduce the chances of our pc infected. So be very careful with what you see on the internet.