Computer threats

In today's cyber world, there are many threats that only seem to be getting smarter and more advanced in their techniques. It's important to have an understanding of the dangers that are prevalent on the internet.


Malware, an umbrella term which is short for malicious software and can be considered to be annoying or harmful which may infect a computer, phone or tablet. Attackers use malware for a variety of illegal purposes, which may include stealing user names and passwords or preventing your devices from working properly. Malware can be installed by opening infected documents, clicking on phishing links, exploiting out of date software.


A virus infects existing programs with the general aim of being destructive and are designed to infiltrate and gain control over a system. A type of virus, known as a 'worm' (write once, read many) can spread across computers and connected networks by making copies of itself. Another well known type of virus is a trojan horse, which presents as legitimate software but contains malicious content.


Spyware is a type of malware which may collect a variety of information about you and your computer system. This information could be your internet browsing history, computer usage habits, personal information or even account details. All gathered information is then often transmitted through the internet to the malicious attacker(s) without your knowing.


Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system by encrypting the files on the infected device. Generally, once the encryption process has been completed, a ransom is then presented to decrypt the files. Most anti-malware providers offer ransomware decryption tools which are available free of charge a number of days after the infection has been identified.


A vulnerability is a weakness in an IT system that can be exploited by an attacker. Vulnerabilities can occur through flaws in software, internet extensions or caused by user error. Attackers will look to exploit these opportunities, often combining one or more of them to achieve their end goal. Keeping your device up to date will assist in reducing these vulnerabilities, as covered in Protect your devices.


Phishing is a way to gather lots of information quickly about user's credentials or provided credentials. These credentials can then be sold online and used for later attacks which may include reconnaissance into a business to find senior employees to target specifically (spear phishing).

Denial of Service

A Distributed (from more than one location) Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to reduce the availability of an online service by overwhelming it with requests. An attacker could target a wide variety of service providers such as banks, government agencies and online entertainment retailers. The loss of revenue escalates as this type of a attack continues.