As a company doing business on the internet, you need to be aware of methods so you can be extra vigilant when online. Malware means malicious software. Wikipedia describes malware as a term used to mean a “variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code.” Malware could be computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, dishonest spyware, and malicious rootkits. A computer virus is a small piece of software that can spread from one infected computer to another. The virus could corrupt, steal, or delete data on your computer—even erasing everything on your hard drive. A virus could also use other programs like your email program to spread itself to other computers.[/vc_column_text]

[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Have you ever seen a pop-up window that advertises a security update or alert? It appears legitimate and asks you to click on a link to install the “update” or “remove” unwanted malicious software that it has apparently detected. This could be rogue security software designed to lure people into clicking and downloading malicious software. Microsoft has a useful webpage that describes rogue security software and how you can protect yourself. Users can infect their computers with Trojan horse software simply by downloading an application they thought was legitimate but was in fact malicious. Once inside your computer, a Trojan horse can do anything from record your passwords by logging keystrokes (known as a keystroke logger) to hijacking your webcam to watch and record your every move.

Malicious spyware is used to describe the Trojan application that was created by cybercriminals to spy on their victims. An example would be keylogger software that records a victim’s every keystroke on his or her keyboard. The recorded information is periodically sent back to the originating cybercriminal over the Internet. Keylogging software is widely available and is marketed to parents or businesses that want to monitor their kids’ or employees’ Internet usage. A computer worm is a software program that can copy itself from one computer to another, without human interaction. Worms can replicate in great volume and with great speed. For example, a worm can send copies of itself to every contact in your email address book and then send itself to all the contacts in your contacts’ address books.

A botnet is a group of computers connected to the Internet that have been compromised by a hacker using a computer virus or Trojan horse. An individual computer in the group is known as a “zombie“ computer. Spam in the security context is primarily used to describe email spam —unwanted messages in your email inbox. Spam, or electronic junk mail, is a nuisance as it can clutter your mailbox as well as potentially take up space on your mail server. Unwanted junk mail advertising items you don’t care for is harmless, relatively speaking. However, spam messages can contain links that when clicked on could go to a website that installs malicious software onto your computer.

Phishing scams are fraudulent attempts by cybercriminals to obtain private information. Phishing scams often appear in the guise of email messages designed to appear as though they are from legitimate sources. For example, the message would try to lure you into giving your personal information by pretending that your bank or email service provider is updating its website and that you must click on the link in the email to verify your account information and password details.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/4″]

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