Malware, short for malicious software, is software used or created to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software.
'Malware' is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software.
Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.
Malware is not the same as defective software, which is software that has a legitimate purpose but contains defects (bugs) that were not found and/or corrected before release. However, some malware is disguised as genuine software, and may come from an official company website. An example of this is 'free' software used for harmless purposes that contains additional tracking software that gathers marketing statistics.
Malware has caused the rise in use of protective software types such as anti virus, anti-malware, and firewalls. Each of these are commonly used by personal users and corporate networks in order to stop the unauthorised access by other computer users, as well as the automated spread of malicious scripts and software.