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Malicious Code Guide

by Enrique De Argaez

This article is dedicated as a guide to provide you with information on the different types of malicious code that can affect the performance of your computer. It will be extended as more content becomes available.


Adware is advertising-supported software that displays pop-up advertisements whenever the program is running. The software is usually available via free download from the Internet, and it is the advertisements that create revenue for the company. Although seemingly harmless (aside from intrusiveness and annoyance of pop-up ads), adware can install components onto your computer that track personal information (including your age, gender, location, buying preferences, surfing habits, etc.).

Most advertising supported software doesn't inform you that it installs adware on your system, other than via buried reference in a license agreement. In many cases the software will not function without the adware component. Some Adware can install itself on your computer even if you decline the offer.

System Monitoring Software:

System monitors are applications designed to monitor computer activity to various degrees. These programs can capture virtually everything you do on your computer including recording all keystrokes, emails, chat room dialogue, web sites visited, and programs run. System monitors usually run in the background so that you do not know that you are being monitored. The information gathered by the system monitor is stored on your computer in an encrypted log file for later retrieval.

Some programs are capable of emailing the log files to another location. Traditionally, system monitors had to be installed by someone with administrative access to your computer, such as a system administrator or someone that shares your computer. However, there has been a recent wave of system monitoring tools disguised as email attachments or "freeware" software products.

They usually carry out their actions without the user noticing. Trojans Horses or Trojans are malicious programs that appear as harmless or desirable applications. Trojans are designed to cause loss or theft of computer data, and to destroy your system. Some Trojans, called RATs (Remote Administration Tools), allow an attacker to gain unrestricted access of your computer whenever you are online. The attacker can perform activities such as file transfers, adding/deleting files or programs, and controlling the mouse and keyboard. Trojans are generally distributed as email attachments or bundled with another software program.

Trojans are named after the mythical Horse of Troy, a large, wooden horse that Greek soldiers left at the doors of the city of Troy, after a long battle. Thinking that the Greek army had withdrawn, the Trojans took the horse into the city. However, at nightfall, the Greeks got out of the horse and attacked the city, thus destroying the city of Troy.

In computing, Trojans are, apparently harmless programs that after reaching a computer, carry out several actions without the user noticing. Unlike other malicious code, Trojans do not replicate by infecting other computers and so their capacity to spread is limited.

Depending on the actions they carry out on the affected computers, Trojans can be classified into the following types:

- Destructive Trojans are designed to delete certain files, format the hard disk, or carry out similar destructive action.

- Backdoor Trojans are designed open a backdoor in the computer to let hackers enter and take remote control of it. For this reason they consist of two components: the server, installed on the machine under attack and the client, used by the hacker to control the computer.

- Keylogger Trojans are programmed to capture the user's keystrokes. This information is stored in a special log that can be accessed by the attacker.

- Fake Trojans, which after being run, display false error messages prompting users to enter user names and passwords which are then sent on to the creator of the malicious code.

For further information on Trojans or other type of malicious code, visit the following websites:


There are many other suspicious and/or annoying programs that can find their way onto your computer without your express knowledge. These programs often come bundled with third-party programs or can be installed as “drive-by downloads.” Some of these programs have spyware capabilities, while others may serve as an annoyance or negatively affect your system resources. There are many terms for these types of programs including scumware, annoyanceware, parasites, malware, etc.

For safe security software, visit the Software Gallery.

About the Author:
Enrique de Argaez is the webmaster of several multilingual Internet websites and author of four newsletters. He is active in Internet World Marketing, and Internet Market Research. Visit his main English website at .

More Internet security articles:

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