Your business is at threat from cyber attacks more than it ever has been. The rate of attacks continues to grow along with the different methods of attack. The first step of protecting your business is to understand the threats.
We have put together the 8 most common online threats your business is likely to face and some information on what they are and how they work.
Malware is an abbreviated form of “malicious software.” This is a type of unwanted software that is installed without your consent. Malware is specifically designed to gain access to or damage a computer. There are various types of malware that include adware, ransomware, spyware, viruses, worms and Trojan horses.
Various factors can make computers more vulnerable to malware attacks, including defects in the operating system (OS) design, all of the computers on a network running the same OS, giving users too many permissions, or just because a computer runs on a particular operating system, such as Windows, for example.
Criminals, such as black hat hackers, who use malevolent programs on a computer and the internet to commit illegal activity. This can be breaking into computers and stealing personal or corporate data or disrupting operations. Cybercriminals will use a host of tactics and methods to gain access.
Laws related to cybercrime continue to evolve across various countries worldwide. Law enforcement agencies are also continually challenged when it comes to finding, arresting, charging, and proving cybercrimes.
A Trojan horse is a destructive commuter program that pretends to be a benign file or application (such as .jpg or .doc) it then opens a backdoor or access to your pc without your knowledge.
Once activated, Trojans can enable cyber-criminals to spy on you, steal your sensitive data, and gain backdoor access to your system. These actions can include:
- Deleting data
- Blocking data
- Modifying data
- Copying data
- Disrupting the performance of computers or computer networks
A botnet is a large network of compromised computers. A bot is a malicious software that enables cybercriminals to control your computer without your knowledge and use it to execute illegal activities such as send out spam emails, spread viruses etc.
What you need to be careful of are the illegal and malicious botnets. What happens is that botnets gain access to your machine through some piece of malicious coding. In some cases, your machine is directly hacked, while other times what is known as a “spider” (a program that crawls the Internet looking for holes in security to exploit) does the hacking automatically.
Harmful computer programs that are designed to spread from one computer to another and interfere with computer operations. A virus can corrupt or delete data on your computer and damage your hard drive.
A computer virus, much like a flu virus, is designed to spread from host to host and can replicate itself. Similarly, in the same way, that flu viruses cannot reproduce without a host cell, computer viruses cannot reproduce and spread without programming such as a file or document.
This self-replicating malicious computer program uses a computer network to send copies of itself to other computers on the same network. Unlike a virus, it doesn't need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause some damage to a network.
A computer worm infection spreads without user interaction. All that is necessary is for the computer worm to become active on an infected system. Before the widespread use of networks, computer worms were spread through infected storage media, such as floppy diskettes, which, when mounted on a system, would infect other storage devices connected to the victim system. USB drives are still a common vector for computer worms.
Spyware, which can be legitimate software, monitors a user's online activity and collects various personal information, such as internet surfing habits, etc. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user and can be difficult to detect.
Strictly speaking, there are some valid applications of spyware. For example, your employer might have a security policy that allows them to use software to monitor the usage of employee computers and mobile devices.
Phishing is a type of online identity theft that uses email and fraudulent websites designed to steal your personal data or information, such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information.
What distinguishes phishing is the form the message takes: the attackers masquerade as a trusted entity of some kind, often a real or plausibly real person, or a company the victim might do business with. It's one of the oldest types of cyberattacks, dating back to the 1990s, and it's still one of the most widespread and pernicious, with phishing messages and techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated.
These are the most common online threats you are likely to come across. There are many more other threats and each of these common threats has multiple variations. Online security is as important as it has ever been. That is why it is so important to understand how your technology is protected.