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Welcome to Your Worst Malware Nightmare

Welcome to Your Worst Malware Nightmare
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Prying eyes can peer in on your personal information

Malware, such as adware and spyware, generally rate high among the more unnerving daily challenges that modern computer users face. These malefic influences undermine trusted computing paradigms and violate personal privacy, undermine confidentiality and ruin relationships between secure endpoints through a combination of espionage-like tactics. Such programs frequently arrive unbeknown to the recipient and are difficult to eradicate even when identified. Perceptible performance losses, randomly changing personal settings and questionable new toolbars or add-ons are some of the dead giveaways for a spyware or adware infestation. Spyware and other malware can also lend itself to more inconspicuous modes of operation, and entrench itself deep within the complex inner workings of an operating system to further complicate detection and eradication.

Waning performance is probably the most readily noticed aspect, as it impacts usability directly to such an extent that even a non-technical person can understand and notice. If it isn't alarming enough when the all-too-obvious signs of pop-up advertisements that arrive even when the computer is not on the Internet, dwindling responsiveness as threads of competing malware fight over system resources clearly signifies problematic goings-on. Application settings change or new features are mysteriously added, unusual process names appear in the task manager (sometimes dozens of instances at a time) or programs behave as if they were possessed and are no longer under your total control. The side-effects of such malware infection (be it adware or spyware) impose serious consequences, yet this is where many users, frustrated by a lack of insight, give up and turn good desktops into doorstops.

Understanding the solution to the problem of malware infection from adware or spyware requires a basic vocabulary of specific, relevant terminology. In the following paragraphs, the more obvious categories of malware are defined and discussed to help the average reader understand the concepts necessary for their identification and removal.

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