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Learning Path: Malware

Need a refresher course on malware terminology for a presentation? Not sure you ever really understood the difference between a virus and a worm? No problem! We've compiled a series of definitions listed in sequence so that you can build upon your understanding of each word. Simply click on each word for the full definition. After you read the definition, click the back button on your browser to return to our Learning Path. After you're done,

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> Malware (for "malicious software") is programming or files that are developed for the purpose of doing harm…

> A virus is a piece of programming code usually disguised as something else that causes some unexpected and usually undesirable event…

> A virus hoax is a false warning about a computer virus…

> An e-mail virus is computer code sent to you as an e-mail note attachment which, if activated, will cause some unexpected and usually harmful effect…

> A worm is a self-replicating virus that does not alter files but resides in active memory and duplicates itself…

> An ethical worm is a program that automates network-based distribution of security patches for known vulnerabilities…

> In computers, a Trojan horse is a program in which malicious or harmful code is contained inside apparently harmless programming or data…

> In a computer program, a logic bomb, also called slag code, is programming code, inserted surreptitiously or intentionally, that is designed to execute (or "explode")…

> In computers, to execute a program is to run the program in the computer, and, by implication, to start it to run…

> A macro virus is a computer virus that "infects" a Microsoft Word or similar applications and causes a sequence of actions to be performed automatically when the application is started or something else triggers it…

> Payload is the eventual effect of a software virus…

> Antivirus software is a class of program that searches your hard drive and floppy disks for any known or potential viruses…

> In computing, stealth refers to an event, object or file that evades methodical attempts to find it…

> As an adjective, heuristic pertains to the process of gaining knowledge or some desired result by intelligent guesswork rather than by following some pre-established formula…

> According to noted computer virus expert Paul Ducklin, in order for a virus to be considered in the wild, "it must be spreading as a result of normal day-to-day operations on and between the computers of unsuspecting users."…

> A zoo is a Web site that holds collections of Internet viruses…


Now that you know your malware terminology, try our related crossword puzzle to practice what you've learned!

This was first published in November 2003

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