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The PayPal Official Insider Guide to Internet Security: Taking Care of Malware

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Learn the ways consumers’ and merchants’ computers are at risk of becoming infected by malware, including so-called viruses, worms, Trojans, zombies, spyware, and more.
This chapter is from the book

One of the biggest safety misconceptions among consumers and online merchants is that their computer software assures effective Internet security; however, malware is a persistent problem for all concerned.

In this chapter, we’ll explain the ways consumers’ and merchants’ computers are at risk of becoming infected by malware, including so-called viruses, worms, Trojans, zombies, spyware, and more.

We’ll also identify unique malware security challenges and solutions for online merchants to help protect their computers, networks, and customer data.

What Is Malware?

Even though obvious effects of successful malware attacks on businesses—including gross fraud incidents and major data breaches—have become common, online merchants don’t always fully understand or respond aptly to malware threats.

All types of malware (short for malicious software), such as viruses, worms, Trojans, and spyware, are written to harm or exploit computers and networks, either as acts of mere malice, or, more often and of greater concern, to steal personal and financial information for criminal gain.

While malware targets everyone who visits the Internet or uses a computer, it poses a unique threat to online merchants, whose websites are often vulnerable in more ways than their owners realize. Cybercriminals are on the lookout for such weaknesses, viewing unsecured data as an open invitation to scam and deprive legitimate businesses, especially new online merchants.

Cybercriminals use special malware to victimize others in varying degrees, ranging from minor annoyances (such as pop-up ads in a browser) to major financial losses (such as fraud committed using stolen credit card or banking details).

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