Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed a sharp increase in the number of cyberattacks, some of which have been able to cripple enterprises, while others threatened to take down massive conglomerates. As these attacks, naturally become more complex, businesses are forced to invest more money into protecting themselves from these cybercriminals.
While in the past, it was as simple as not opening an email, to keep most threats at bay, today you have viruses and worms that are capable of downloading and installing themselves onto your computer without your knowledge. Below are 5 network security threats you should be familiar with, in this day and age.
1. Worms and Viruses
When we look at all the different network security threats, there’s no doubt that computer viruses are amongst the most well-known. The primary objective of these worms and viruses is to infiltrate your system and install malicious software onto it, which ultimately corrupts vital systems, disabling and crippling networks in its path.
A computer virus is capable of attaching itself to a system or host file, and remaining dormant until it’s activated either on a timer or by a specific event. Worms are different in that they tend to be more generic. They will use something called macros to infect documents, spreadsheets and other kinds of files.
Once it has successfully infiltrated your system, it will immediately begin to replicate and infect vulnerable areas of your computer and network system.
Viruses and worms are all a hacker need to attack and ground your computer system. To minimize these threats, an end-user must install an antimalware tool, on every network system and device. This will inhibit the spread of any worms or viruses.
These antimalware tools will flag these malicious files and remove them before they’re able to do any damage. You will also need to constantly update these security tools, since hackers are always creating new ways of exploiting your system, with new types of viruses and worms.
2. Rogue security software
By using the fear of computer viruses, computer scammers have devised a way of defrauding unsuspecting people online. Rogue security software is essentially malicious software that is designed to mislead, to make a computer user believe they have installed a real antivirus tool on their system.
Once the user installs and runs the program, it will run a fake scan, and notify the user it has found viruses on your system. The software will then direct you to purchase the tool to remove the virus from your system, or to download another tool. All of which is designed to cause further harm to you and your system.
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3. Adware and Spyware
Adware is essentially any piece of software that was developed to track your browsing habits and use that data to show advertisements in the form of pop-ups. The adware will collect this data with your consent, and is a legitimate source of income for a great many companies, especially those that allow end-users to try their programs for free.
Essentially, they make money through the tightly focused and targeted ads that show up while using the software. The clause to the adware is usually hidden in the actual install agreement, but you can find it if you take the time to read the entire agreement.
The only real way of knowing you have adware on your system is through the pop-ups, and in some cases, it may make your system slower or your internet experience a little more sluggish. When the adware is downloaded onto a user’s computer without his/her consent, this is referred to as malicious.
Spyware is very similar to adware, but it’s installed onto your system without the knowledge of the user. Such software can contain what’s called a key logger, which will record all your keystrokes, such as passwords, email addresses and even credit card details (when you make an online purchase), making it a very dangerous kind of malicious file.
Ransomware as a cybersecurity threat hasn’t been around as long as the others. Of all the businesses that have been attacked using this form of virus, close to 70% of them lost part or all of their data.
Ransomware works by infecting and locking out part or all of your systems files. The attacker will then threaten to either corrupt or delete this data unless the victim pays a ransom, which is usually a substantial amount. Hackers will usually use Bitcoin as a means of transferring the money, as it allows for anonymity, providing these cyber criminals with a haven from possible capture.
To minimize the chances of being attacked by a ransomware virus, it’s advisable that you install antivirus software on your computer, and keep it up to date. If you’re in a company, then you should train the employees to be able to identify phishing scams. Having backups of your data is also important, if you do lose data, you can always restore it using your backups.
5. Drive-by Download Attacks
In the past, maintaining a network was fairly simple, all you really had to do is desist from downloading anything from any untrustworthy sources. Today, things are a little more sophisticated. With these drive-by download attacks, essentially malicious code is downloaded onto an end user’s computer, through a web browser, or integrated OS. The entire process is, of course, carried out automatically.
The URLs to these websites, look authentic, while in reality, they harbor tons of malicious files, which are trying their hardest, to get onto the systems of any unsuspecting passer-by. To keep these kinds of viruses off your computer, you need to ensure your web browser is up-to-date. You can also look into safe search tools, which are designed to protect you while surfing the internet.