Cybersecurity Basics – Malicious Code

In a world of constantly evolving technology, it can be pretty hard to keep up. The concept of cybersecurity can be both frightening and overwhelming especially since no one ever took the time to define it. Terms like ransomware, spoofing, spamming, phishing, adware, malware, viruses, worms, and trojan horses just blur together to inspire undefined fear and concern for our users.

Triangle Tech wants to help. Using our articles in the Triangle Tech Blog, we’re going to help clarify some of the topics that our clients struggle with as well as offer tips and advice that we’ve found to be most helpful.

In this article we’re going to break down some of the different types of malicious code that you might encounter as a professional or business owner and what kind of things you can and should do to prevent code from affecting your devices.

Common types of malicious code have two primary components:

  1. Propagation mechanism – this is the system by with the code spreads
  2. Payload – this is the malicious action that the program performs on your device

The first way we define malicious code is by the first primary component, the propagation mechanism.


Malicious code that is spread by human action falls into the Virus category.

Computer viruses spread by human action.

Common human actions that might spread a virus are opening an infected email attachment, inserting an infected USB, or downloading a program from an untrusted source. Triangle Tech recommends checking in with your IT department or IT services vendor before opening the contents from any unidentified or untrusted source.


Malicious code that spreads from system to system without user interaction falls into the Worm category.

Computer worms spread system to system without human action.

Worms typically require vulnerable systems to spread. If you keep your operating system and applications up to date, you will significantly reduce the risk of a worm crawling into your device, metaphorically speaking.

Trojan Horses

Malicious code that disguises itself as a beneficial program while quietly delivering a malicious payload in the background fall into the Trojan Horse category.

Trojan horses disguise themselves as useful software.

In the next post, we’re going to talk about the common behavior of malicious code as well as how each behavior is typically classified.

We hope we’re helping. Please reach out to us if you have any further questions, comments, or concerns when it comes to how your small company is dealing with IT challenges.

~Triangle Tech Support

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