The news is fraught with malevolent stories about the dark web, hacking scandals and cyber criminals, but how much do we really know?

When we consider the sheer vastness of the internet, it would be naive to assume there can be no evil. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and every corner of the web is laced with pernicious viruses and criminals. But with education and vigilance, we can all grow wiser to the many guises and techniques of a cyber threat.

The most important thing you can do for you business and employees is raise awareness on how to identify and mitigate the vast amount of threats.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the most notorious cyber security threats.

Computer worm

Worms are software programs that copy themselves from one computer to the next, with no need for human intervention. They replicate at a speed no more than the time it takes for a user to open and load their emails. The Conficker worm, for example, infected up to 8.9 million computers within just 4 days.

Malicious Spyware

Malicious spyware is used to gain access to machines so cyber criminals can spy on their victims. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, including keystroke logging software. Keystroke logging software records users' keystrokes, so passwords and and internet activity can be tracked.

Trojan horse

A trojan horse is a type of malware disguised as an innocuous, regular program. Its intention is to lure the target into downloading a file which could be something like an unsuspicious looking software application. Once activated by the victim, a trojan gives cyber criminals access to sensitive data enabling them to delete, modify or copy data. They can also use the trojan to spy on their target, obtaining lists of running software, taking screenshots, and tracking the data entered via the keyboard.

Ransomware

Ransomware is self explanatory. An attack will lock all of the victim’s data subject to payment of a ransom. The attacker will often threaten to publish sensitive data, and payment will only be accepted in the form of bitcoin, to protect the identity of the cyber criminal. Ransomware is a type of malicious software from cryptovirology.

Macro Viruses

A macro virus is written in the same macro language as software programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Once infected, a sequence of actions will begin automatically when the infected application is opened. Typically, macro malware is transmitted through phishing emails containing malicious attachments. The macro virus spreads as users share documents.

Botnet

A 'botnet' is the term used to describe a group of computers and originates from the words ‘robot’ and ‘network’. The concept of a 'botnet' was initially created with good intentions. A 'botnet' is a string of connected computers, servers or devices. The attacker then infects several machines at once and takes control of the network to perform malicious activities. These might include sending spam, stealing data, or running ‘denial of service’ attacks. The infected devices can be controlled remotely by a single attacker or group of attackers, and the victims may not even realise they are a part of that network.

Cyber criminals are not to be underestimated. Their knowledge extends into the depths of the darkest corners of the internet. They exist to steal, spy, and threaten, and they should be treated as any other criminal. But with vigilance and awareness, we can train our teams and our peers to identify potential threats that could likely put entire company’s in jeopardy.

Are there any other threats you’d like to add to the list? Comment below with your thoughts.

Using the cloud to secure your business

Topics: Future Technology

Rob Evans

Written by Rob Evans