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The Digital Business Kit for Retailers

Learning Outcomes

Retailers will gain an understanding of the different online Security and privacy risks and opportunities to address these. [printfriendly]

mod-arrow Malware

Malware by definition is a software created with malicious intent (malicious + software = malware). Here is a quick overview of the top contenders followed by what you can do to address them:


  1. Computer virus: This is a small software program that is designed to spread from one computer to another and to interfere with computer operation and/or erase data and/or send itself to all of your contacts. This “virus” typically will try to infect other systems and your contacts using your communication systems, email being the most popular.
  2. virusWhat do computer viruses do? A definition by Microsoft: “A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on your computer, use your email program to spread itself to other computers, or even erase everything on your hard disk. Computer viruses are often spread by attachments in email messages or instant messaging messages. That is why it is essential that you never open email attachments unless you know who it’s from and you are expecting it. Often viruses are hidden in “zip” or “executable (.exe)” files.  Viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files. Computer viruses also spread through downloads on the internet. They can be hidden in illicit software or other files or programs you might download. To help avoid computer viruses, it’s essential that you keep your computer current with the latest updates and antivirus tools, stay informed about recent threats, run your computer as a standard user (not as administrator), and that you follow a few basic rules when you surf the internet, download files, and open attachments. Once a virus is on your computer, its type or the method it used to get there is not as important as removing it and preventing further infection.”
  3. Trojans: Named after the Trojan Horse (Greek history), a trojan is a network software application that prefers to remain hidden on an installed computer. Trojans sometimes, for example, access personal information stored locally on home or business computers, and then send this data to a remote party via the internet. Alternatively, trojans may serve merely as a “backdoor” applications, opening network ports to allow other network applications access to that computer. They typically do NOT try to infect others once they are in your system. You will typically pick up a trojan from visiting an infected website.
  4. Worms: A computer worm is a malware program that replicates itself in order to spread to other computers. Often, it uses a computer network to spread itself, relying on security failures on the target computer to access it. Unlike a computer virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause at least some harm to the network, even if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.


Build your wall of China (Great Wall of China) to keep unwanted elements OUT! There are a numerous security programs including free programs listed in the resources section of this website that can combat these threats. We have compiled a short list for your viewing below and don’t forget that company policy is still important in battling malware!

OK… what do we do about it?

If you are like the rest of the general population, just reading about these things feels like they may be creeping around right now. So now that you know the difference between these main nasty pieces of malware – what to do about it? Don’t despair. There is an army of programmers building patches, security and anti-virus solutions for every new malware set loose by evil hackers. You need to use tools that can help defend your company, and you need to update your tools and your programs, including browsers to ensure you have the latest protection.

NOTE: Most programs will send you a notice or alert to update when they have a new version release, and it only takes a minute to do.