PC Performance Pros updates you on the latest definition of what malware, spyware, adware, and viruses are.

One of the confusing factors around computer security is the operating system. Recent headlines marked the death of Microsoft XP, but sadly that headline was not exactly true. While it is true that XP is no longer being manufactured, XP is still installed on 25-35% of PC’s. The problem currently with PC security is the new operating systems. But before we get into that let’s define what malware, spyware, adware, and virus are.


Malware is a number of different types of software that is designed to malicious. Malware includes spyware, adware, virus, keyloggers, worms, Trojans, and a host of other software that you never want to invade your computer. Malware is designed to damage your computer, or steal your information. Many times it replicates itself and then spreads to your friends and contacts computers. So, malware is any malicious software bent on doing damage, including stealing data without your permission.

Spyware and Adware

Spyware, as its name implies is a type of malware that is designed to steal your information without your permission. Spyware, which is often in the form of cookies, sits on your computer and collects data. Adware is a type of spyware. Some spyware is more dangerous than other types of spyware. Some spyware has the job of stealing your passwords, financial data, personal data, etc. Other spyware, such as adware are only stealing marketing type information. Adware wants to know where you shop, what sites you visit for the sole purpose of sending you ads. Annoying, but mostly harmless.


A virus is its own piece of software. A virus can damage your computer and at the very least tries to make a permanent part of your computer. Virus also replicates themselves and pass their copies along through email and auxiliary drives such as thumb drives. Virus can also destroy data or corrupt your computer systems.

Why the new Operating Systems are a threat to Internet Security

The problem is not the new Operating systems themselves. It is the fact that Microsoft will stop producing security patches to fix XP. That means that all of those people and businesses who still use XP will have a computer that will be at a higher risk of contracting malware. Without coming right out and saying it, Microsoft requires that consumers upgrade to the new operating systems. The bigger problem is that as new security patches for the new operating systems provide a sort of template in which hackers can use as a tool to gain better access to XP systems. That puts up to 35% of PC users at risk for data loss, malware infestation, damage to their computers, and even identity theft.

The Solution

That process seems liable. To just stop providing security patches is an action that puts a lot of computers at risk. With Internet security though, knowing is half of the battle. The real question is what to do with this information. There are solutions. First you could just take your XP computer offline and never connect it to the Internet again. That would be a solution for a portion of people affected, especially if you may just use it for word or keeping financial records. You could upgrade to a newer Operating System, which all the depends if the current computer has the necessary specs. The last option would be to just buy a new computer or have one custom built. Notice that we did not suggest a third party anti-virus. Those programs are not going to help for long against hackers. So they are not an option to fix this problem.