You’ve heard of it – of course. You may even know that cybercrime is the second-most-reported economic crime, with the potential to create organizational and financial havoc for every kind of business and disruption of individual’s lives as well.
You probably have some kind of anti-virus program, but criminals get smarter every day, and it’s a full-time job even for experts to keep up with them. That’s why you need the best internet security system you can find, tailored to the cyber threats that are most likely to affect you and your business.
Here’s what you should know:
What Is Spyware?
As you might guess from the name, spyware is software that hides out on your computer and keeps tabs on what you do. It can range from harmless “cookies” to the malicious software created by criminals.
- Cookies are messages that web servers pass to your browser when you visit websites and contain information about what you did on the site as well as any information you’ve volunteered. When you revisit the site, your browser passes the information back to it, allowing eBay, for example, to welcome you by name and show you a list of items you might like. Only the website that creates a cookie can access it, and cookies can’t transmit viruses.
- Malicious spyware, on the other hand, operates the same way but does it undercover. The software is downloaded secretly and it can be recording your passwords, codes and website visits. Normally, it does this by recording keystrokes as you type, and in this way, it can steal your most sensitive data, like social security numbers and banking details.
What Are Viruses and Worms?
Viruses and worms are different things. For a virus to run, it requires an active host program or an active operating system that is already infected. Worms are stand-alone malicious programs that can replicate themselves on computer networks without any additional operations. More specifically:
- Viruses are typically attached to an executable file or word document. They commonly spread via email attachment downloads and file sharing and by visits to infected websites. Once a virus has entered your computer system, it remains dormant until the infected program is activated, at which time it comes to life and can run and replicate on your system, affecting files, boot sectors, macros and scripts.
- Worms don’t require a host program or file. They generally get into your system via a network connection or a downloaded file and then can run wild and self-replicate. Not only that, but each generation of a worm can replicate itself and quickly spread through computer networks and the internet. Worms take advantage of errors in network configurations and operating systems, and many will use multiple means of spreading themselves.
What Are Trojans?
As mythology tells, in ancient times the Greeks built a great wooden horse and hid elite forces within it. They then tricked the Trojans into bringing the horse into their city where the Greek soldiers came out by night and conquered them.
Today’s Trojan horse is a variety of malicious software that is disguised as legitimate. Once you’ve been deceived into downloading and executing a Trojan, it can give criminals access to your system for purposes of spying, modifying, copying, deleting or blocking data, disrupting operations and even taking complete backdoor control of entire computer networks. Luckily, for all the harm they cause, Trojans cannot self-replicate.
Among the most devious and damaging Trojans are:
- Trojan-DDoS programs. These highly malicious programs conduct Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks where multiple compromised networks are used to target a single system. When a website is under attack, it stops responding to legitimate users because it is flooded with traffic. DDoS protection is important because this kind of attack has become the weapon of choice for hackers.
- Trojan-Downloader programs. These programs can download and install new malware on your computer.
- Rootkit Trojans. These are forms of malicious software that give unauthorized users access to the most privileged parts of a server or computer and to restricted areas of its software.
- Trojan-Droppers. These are programs designed to prevent malware from being detected, thereby giving themselves and other malicious programs extended time to do their damage before you’re aware of them.
- Trojan-FakeAV programs. These programs present themselves as antivirus software advising you of a threat when none actually exists. You might have had a screen pop up that warns you sternly to call a number immediately to ward off computer disaster. That’s a FakeAV program intended to extort payment from you in exchange for the removal of a threat that doesn’t exist.
It’s a shame that people clever enough to devise malicious software don’t apply their smarts to endeavors that don’t endanger other people, but as long as they do, you’ve got to defend yourself against them.