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Malware (a portmanteau for malicious software) is any software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client, or computer network. Malware does the damage after it is implanted or introduced in some way into a target's computer and can take the form of directly executable code, scripts, so-called "active content" (Microsoft Windows), and other forms of data. Some kinds of malware are largely referred to in the media as computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and scareware, among other terms. Malware has a malicious intent, acting against the interest of the computer user—and so does not include software that causes unintentional harm due to some deficiency, which is typically described as a software bug.
Programs officially supplied by companies can be considered malware if they secretly act against the interests of the computer user. For example, at one point Sony music Compact discs silently installed a rootkit on purchasers' computers running Microsoft Windows with the intention of preventing illicit copying; but which also reported on users' listening habits, and unintentionally created extra security vulnerabilities.
One strategy for protecting against malware is to prevent the harmful software from gaining access to the target computer. For this reason, antivirus software, firewalls and other strategies are used to help protect against the introduction of malware, in addition to checking for the presence of malware and malicious activity and recovering from attacks.