Most people are familiar with the concept of computer viruses. They know that viruses can spread from computer to computer and that a virus can detract from your ability to control your computer. Viruses can be really mild infections or super serious depending on the type of virus. This is familiar to the vast majority of people who own computers, but malware isn’t quite as well-known or well-understood. Nonetheless, malware is just as serious of a threat and requires just as much attention as viruses in this day and age. If you aren’t familiar with malware, then take some time to learn a bit about it so that you can protect yourself from the threats that lurk out there on the web.

Viruses are essentially a type of malware. Malware or “malicious software” is software that was designed specifically to harm your computer, or to benefit a third party. It installs itself on your computer, typically without your knowledge or your permission. Not all malware spreads the way that viruses do and not all malware has the same overall purpose. Each virus and each piece of malware is different. If you want your computer to stay free from viruses (as most people do), then you probably want your computer to stay malware-free as well.

Sality is a virus that really demonstrates the importance of keeping your computer free from viruses. Sality doesn’t mess around. This virus can cause a host of problems on your computer, most of them without you even knowing about it. Your identity and private or sensitive information on your computer becomes the target of sality and your ability to maintain your computer’s security is compromised by the virus. If you don’t have the right anti-virus or anti-malware software installed on your computer, you won’t be able to avoid this one.

Malware can take many different forms. Spyware and adware are excellent examples of two different types of malware that are rampant online. Sality manifests certain aspects that are similar to spyware. For example, this virus will try to send your sensitive information to a third party via a designated email address. But not all spyware has viral properties. Viruses spread from computer to computer through some pre-programmed mechanism. But many types of spyware do not necessarily spread in this manner and so wouldn’t qualify to be called “viruses”. Rather, spyware aims to gather private data through some means and may install itself on your computer using non-viral methods.

If you want to stay malware-free, you need to know a bit about how viruses spread and how different types of malware can find their way onto your computer. But, at the same time, you need to make sure your computer is entirely protected. Keep your anti-virus and anti-malware software up-to-date and don’t let it lapse. Scan your computer from time to time if you suspect that it’s been infected with spyware or some other type of malware. Be aware that some viruses and malware don’t have symptoms associated with infection and so may be impossible to detect without reputable scanning software.