The computer is a very special device. It has been both a revolutionary device and an evolutionary device. What was once the machine of corporations and governments is now in the back pocket of every teenager with a cell phone. But while everyone acknowledges the power of computers these days, not that many people know a lot about them. They tend to look at them as a magical black box and not the complicated pieces of machines that they are. A long time ago many people were the same way with cars. And now these days while not that many people can fix a car by themselves, more than enough people know what the basic elements of cars are. They know about the engines, and the tires, and how it runs on gasoline as well. People do not have nowhere near close to the same amount of knowledge when it comes to how computers work.
And that does not just include the people who use computers casually or just use Office programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. No we are talking about the people who use the computer all of the time for complicated work. These are people who repair the devices and the people who program on them. Even a lot of these people do not have a good understanding of how computers work. And this is what malware writers hope for. They thrive on the fact that people do not know how the internal of the machines work. And it is even better for them when people who are supposed to be professionals do not understand how it works either.
For example, do you know what an antivirus program really does? Yeah, you know that it searches for viruses in the system but do you know how it does it? It does the job by analyzing processes that run in the machine. What do we mean when we say the word process? That is not a word that a lot of people hear, at least in the context that we are using it. In computer terms, the word process simply means the programs that are running on your computer at the time. The process cycle is complicated since they can be split into threads and run concurrently but that information is for another article. Right now we are focusing on just the process cycle and what it means to malware.
To see the processes on your machine, if you are running Windows, just right click on program dock bar at the bottom. You will see a bunch of choices that you can click on and one will be to start task manager. Once you do that click on the tab that says Processes and take a look. You will be amazed at how many things that your computer is doing at any one time.
A process is just a program which means that a piece of malware is a process as well. The big difference between a piece of malware and a normal program is not only the damage that it can cause but the fact that it is trying to remain hidden on your system. It does not want to be seen in your process manager. And that is why antivirus software has to dig really deep into your system to find certain malware out there. It is trying its best not to be found.
Some malware creators have mastered a way to hide from both your process manager and the antivirus on your machine. This is the really dangerous malware that is out there. This is why you need to make sure your antivirus is updated all of the time. To stop threats that are dangerous like this.