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Until around 2003, malware was mainly cyber-vandalism. That is, it was designed to cause a nuisance – this might be displaying an alarming message, deleting data, slowly corrupting data or causing unintended harmful side-effects such as preventing access to a drive. Today, the overwhelming majority of malicious programs are designed to make money illegally. For this reason, they try to cause as little impact as possible on the victim’s computer, so as to go unnoticed. The damage caused by malware is often less dramatic (in visual terms), but much more dangerous. For example, banking Trojans are designed to capture login credentials, allowing the attackers to assume the victim’s ID and steal money from their bank account. That said, some malware designed to make money does have a dramatic impact on the computer. Ransomware programs encrypt data or block access to the computer or mobile device, with the aim of extorting money from the victim.
The extent of the damage caused by malicious software will often depend on whether the malware has infected a home computer or a corporate network. The consequences of the damage may also vary according to the specific type of malware and the type of device that is infected – plus the nature of the data that is stored on or accessed by the device.
Whereas, in some cases the results of a malware infection may be imperceptible to the user, in other cases the damage can have serious consequences:
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