There are countless ways that your computer can be infected by harmful elements but the vast majority of them come down to the four usual suspects: Viruses, spam, malware, and spyware. Consider them the Four Horsemen of computer problems and keep in mind that some of them can overlap each other. No matter what, though, they’re dangerous and not to be taken lightly. But even the worst of these offenders can be prevented and avoided as long as you take the proverbial advice to “know thine enemy.” Luckily, that’s just what we’re going to do.

Spyware

Spyware is any program that is installed on your computer without your permission and meant to observe your internet use. If not taken care of, the spyware will just sit on your PC and track your data and statistics and send that information to remote sources. This type of dishonest spying is bad enough but it gets worse: Spyware bogs down your PC’s speed and causes an overall drop in performance power. To combat this, you’ll need an anti virus program that also has anti sypware capabilities.

Malware

Malware is actually a pretty broad category that includes many forms of spyware, adware, toolbars, and more. It often infects your computer by secretly bundling itself with a download on the internet, typically on music sharing sites. As with spyware, you’ll need a dedicated anti malware program included in your antivirus software if you want to keep yourself fully protected. Malware is difficult to detect when just scanning for regular viruses and if you don’t take care of the problem early the malware can start replicating itself just like any other horrible disease. Don’t let this happen to you.

Virus

The term “computer virus” is a pretty wide-reaching word that covers nearly all the unwanted harmful elements that infect our computers. Plenty of people consider both malware and adware to fall under the virus label, while Trojan horses and worms are also often referred to as viruses. But in its most basic sense, a virus is a program that infects a computer without permission and can reproduce on its own and spread around. By this logic, spyware is a virus and, while it is, many antivirus experts distinguish a virus as any kind of virus that isn’t malware, spyware, or adware.

Spam

Spam is the clever nickname for junk mail that is sent to your email address by people you don’t know and don’t want to know. The curious thing, though, is that most people assume that spam is harmless. Sure, it’s annoying to have your inbox be flooded with junk but other than that it’s no big deal, right? Unfortunately, it is a big deal because spam often comes filled with some of the nastiest viruses on the cybersphere. Most people are smart enough not to click on links or downloads in their spam but spam can ruin your computer even if you don’t click on it. Spam slows down performance and clogs up your registry, among other things, and this is all without installing any viruses yet. To combat this, make sure that your antivirus program comes with a spam blocker as well.

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