User Account Control (UAC) allows a user to change computer settings while running as a standard user, instead of requiring administrator privileges to perform most tasks. The updated Windows Defender utility detects malware on your system and, when used in conjunction with SpyNet, can help to eliminate most spyware attacks and exploits. The new Windows Security Center (WSC) is full of configurable options and tools to help you build a strong security posture so that you can safely surf the Internet without constantly worrying about your system. As you can see, there are many ways you can apply defense in depth for a more secure infrastructure.
Malware is definitely a threat, but these new tools and features help to provide a more secure experience. Microsoft Vista takes steps to ensure that the base OS is not jeopardized, and Internet Explorer 7 provides a secure framework in which to operate. Although the battle against malware continues, at least with Vista and Internet Explorer 7 you are well armed to fight that battle.
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Malware is any software product or program created with the intent to cause damage or harm. The most common types of malware are viruses, Trojans, and worms.
A virus is a malicious program that is commonly installed on a target host with the intent to cause harm or damage. A virus (just like the medical version of the term) infects the host, usually by being installed by the end user of the target host. A virus is almost always executed by the end user without him knowing the true intention of the malware.
An e-mail virus is transmitted via e-mail and contains a payload that is activated when the end user is provoked to activate it, or when something in the e-mail client and how it reads e-mail (and scripts) activates the payload upon delivery or viewing, without opening the e-mail (such as with an automatic reading pane found in most e-mail clients).
Boot sector viruses are often transmitted via disk and are written to the master boot record on the hard disk. Application viruses are executable programs that infect your system when you run them, and macro viruses are commonly embedded in documents (such as Microsoft Word documents).
Worms will propagate. They are programmed to scan the network from the infected target host to find other hosts with open and vulnerable services and ports.
A Trojan horse will appear harmless enough for the recipient to install, but it contains a secret payload that usually is a virus or other form of malware.