The internet is filled with as much wonder as dangers. Just as you learn never to talk to people you don’t know, the same advice translates over to the virtual world. You should be wary whenever you are made to give your personal bank details to any website you’re unfamiliar with. In order to protect yourself, you must be able to differentiate between legitimate sites and blatant forgeries. These cyber criminals use many different ways of luring you into giving them your personal affix. If you’re a small business owner, online, then you need to be aware of the many methods that these hackers use.
Below are just some of the many common internet threats that you should be on red alert about:
Adware is basically malware, or a type of malware that is designed to display unsolicited ads while the end user is surfing the web. These ads will usually redirect the user to other advertising sites, where they will attempt to collect marketing type data from you, sometimes with your input, sometimes without it.
Adware is sometimes bundled with freeware and shareware downloads, as a way of legitimately generating ad revenue which they use to fund the product itself. However, there are those websites that are infected, such sites will infect the user’s computer the moment he/she visits it.
2. Rogue Security Software
While surfing the web, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen at least one pop-up window advertising some form of security tool or alert. These ads are made to appear legitimate, as they ask you to click on a link to remove malicious software from your computer that it has detected. In many cases, these ads are in fact, peddling route security tools. Microsoft and other internet security companies have a handful of web pages dealing with these tools, and how to remove them from your computer.
3. Computer Worms
A computer worm is basically a malicious file or program that is capable of copying itself from one system to another, without any input from the computer users. Worms are capable of replicating themselves very quickly across a computer system. For example, a worm could infect your system, and then send copies of itself to every contact on your email address book.
Because of the speed in which they are able to infect systems, worms are known to gain notoriety very quickly, as they propagate all across the internet, with a simple mouse click from an email. The Conficker worm is a prime example, as it was able to infect close to 9 million systems in little over 4 days.
Spyware is another form of malware. Spyware is wide-reaching, as it can be found in many different places, most notably in pop-ups on downloadable files. Once these spyware programs have been installed on your system, they allow the hacker to monitor your keystrokes, to access and delete your personal files, to access applications and also reformat your hard drive. Whoever created the spyware program that has infected your computer, will have access to some or even all aspects of your system.
Keyloggers are very similar to spyware, in that they also monitor your keyboard actions. However these keyloggers are sometimes designed to monitor certain kinds of key entries, such as username and passwords or bank card details. Keylogging is typically what is used by hackers to steal people’s identities.
Spam from a security perspective is used to describe solicitation of unwanted emails. Spam is a nuisance in that it is capable of cluttering ones mailbox, as well as clogging up the mail server. These unwanted emails are, for the most part, harmless. However, these spam emails can and do contain links which can send users to rouge security software or to phishing websites or they could simply have attachments which hold malicious files.
Phishing scams are basically fraudulent attempts by online criminals to obtain confidential information from unsuspected internet surfers. Phishing scams in most cases are contained in emails, which are dressed up to look legitimate. For example, an email may attempt to lure you into giving up your bank details by telling you your bank details needs updating, then giving you a link, which directs you to a counterfeit website, that may look and feel a lot like the real thing. Once you put your real bank details into the site and click the okay button, the information is then sent to the hackers email account.
Pharming is a lot like phishing, only more complex, this security risk is designed to exploit the DNS system. These pharm sites will create a web page which mimics a page on a legitimate website, such as PayPal, using a complex DNS exploit. When the suspecting user puts their log-in details into the page, just like with the phishing scams, their details are sent to the hackers.
AUTHOR BIO: Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website Compuchenna.