There are constant cyber attacks on computers around the world. We see more and more examples of worldwide attacks from malware like Trojans, ransomware, worms and spyware. Hackers are constantly developing new methods of breaking into your computer.
The purpose of spreading malware is often financial gain of one kind or another. Either the attackers want to have access to your personal information in order to steal your bank account and credit card information or they may block your access to your computer and demand a ransom before you can access it again. There are also examples of how both private people, celebrities and large companies have had confidential information, photos and documents stolen and then been blackmailed to give the hackers a ransom if they do not want the hackers to publish the sensitive data.
Malware is a contraction of the words malicious and software. It is general term for software which destroys, monitors or gets your computer to perform unwanted actions. Malware is software that is designed solely to harm you and your computer.
Spyware monitors the computer user and allows the attacker to keep track of everything you do. Spyware is often used to retrieve personal information such as bank and credit card information and internet habits. There are almost no limits to what can be done with that type of information. The information can be used to transfer money from your bank to the attacker’s bank account, to capture personal information and to blackmail the victim. The comprehensive knowledge of the victim can also be used for identity theft. Additionally, spyware can be used to take control over the infected computer by installing additional software or redirecting web browsers. Spyware is often invisible and therefore most people do not know when their computer has been infected with spyware. The best way to protect your computer against spyware is by using anti spyware programs. It is important that your antispyware program is always updated as there are constantly new versions of spyware. The attacker can install spyware on your computer in different ways. One of the most dangerous types of spyware is keyloggers. In our article about keyloggers, you can read more about what differentiates keyloggers from other types of spyware.
Trojans are computer programs which are disguised as harmless programs or files. Trojans can delete your data, send copies of themselves to email addresses in your address book and take control of your computer. Since they can send copies of themselves to all your contacts, trojans spread with the speed of lightning and are incredibly hard to stop. They can also be used to make your computer attack other computers. Trojan horses come into your computer when downloaded from the internet or you open an attachment in your email. The attached files can be text documents, images, video, audio, or applications.
It is important to understand that trojans can only be installed on your computer if you make an active action. That is why, in connection with this type of attack, we are talking about social engineering where the trojan horse convinces the victim that he or she needs to do something specific like to follow a link or open a file. It is also important to understand that trojan horses can spread virtually all types of viruses, malware, ransomware and spyware.
Although we have known about trojans since the 1990s, they are still going strong. Today hackers still use the traditional method of infected attachments in mails but they have also found new media where they can trick users. You may install a trojan horse by downloading a picture from a Facebook message or text message on your phone. Here it is also the case that they can send themselves to all your Facebook friends or to anyone in your phonebook. Since most of our devices today communicate with each other, trojans can spread across all devices.
Ransomware attacks are often spread using a Trojan horse. In our article on ransomware, we explain what the term covers, and how you can protect yourself against this type of attack.
Phishing mails are almost always sent with the purpose of luring confidential credit card or bank information out of their victims. There may also be talk about phishing where the attacker accesses your personal information for the purpose of identity theft. It frequently happens that individuals receive emails from unknown senders who seem to be from their bank or public institutions such as the tax authorities. When the victim follows a link in the mail they are taken to a website which looks official. Sometimes the only difference is a minor spelling mistake in the website address which the victim does not notice.
Phishing can take place if you enter your confidential banking information on a fake website from which the attackers can use the information to transfer money from yours to their bank account. Another method of phishing is that the victim follows a link on the fake website. When the user clicks the link an application will automatically be installed on their computer. This application can monitor their activities and thus snap up confidential information.
Since scammers began phishing with the use of emails, new techniques to gain access to users banking and credit card information have emerged. Smishing is a similar phenomenon related to SMS text messages. Here, it may be a text which appears to be from a public authority, or premium rate text where the receiver is tricked into entering his or her credit card information to receive a particular item or participate in a competition. Finally, there is also real-time phishing where the victim sees a popup message requesting information such as a code from their key card for online banking services. With this key, fraudsters can then access online banking facilities.
Unlike trojan horses and phishing mails worms can spread viruses and reproduce themselves without you doing anything other than being online. You do not have to download infected files or visit fake websites to become a victim of a computer worm. A computer worm is not a virus because it does not need to connect with another program to spread. The worm often brings one or more malicious programs such as viruses and trojans.
Worms exploit vulnerabilities in networks. The typical computer worm spreads itself by spamming copies of itself into random IP addresses. IP stands for Internet Protocol and all devices that communicate with each other over the Internet have an IP address. In order for the communication not to get mixed up, IP addresses identify an internet connection with a network device. Each copy of the computer worm has been instructed to attack a certain type of vulnerability in a particular network. When a randomly hit device has a network connection with the specific vulnerability, the worm uses this uncertainty to access the computer and make its attack. Once that happens the worm uses the device it has just infected to spam multiple random IP addresses, thus restarting the process again.
Computer worms can thus spread themselves to a vast amount of computers in almost no time and there is almost always no explanation of who has been attacked. You can reduce the risk of computer worms by always having your operating system up to date and using a firewall on your computer.
Install antimalware and antispyware programs. Even the most careful and attentive computer user can become a victim of spyware, trojan horses, phishing and, not least, computer worms. Anti Explotator is an anti-spyware program that secures you and your computer against malware. Anti Explotator protects you from keyloggers, rootkits, adware, spam, toolbars, malware and many more threats found on the Internet.
Besides installing programs to capture and eliminate threats to your computer, there are a number of tips you should follow:
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