There are more security risks for your computer than just the common, run-of-the-mill virus. The amount of digital use the average person has over the course of a week has increased significantly in just a few years, and with it comes a legion of security related issues.
Understanding the Security Risks
Although not a definitive list of the possible threats available for the Windows user, here’s ten modern risks that you face every time you power up your PC.
1 – Viruses
Viruses have been around for as long as computers. They’ve moved on from simply displaying the name of the coder on the monitor, a kind of virtual vandalism, and now can disable and wipe the data off a hard drive in mere seconds.
Risk 2 – Ransomware
Recently, the UK was gripped in the clutches of the WannaCry ransomware infection. This particular infection exploited a vulnerability in Windows, and quickly spread throughout the NHS and other organisations. It results in the locking and encrypting of the data on a computer until money was sent to those who unleashed it to the world.
Risk 3 – Worms
Although a worm is a type of virus, it behaves differently in that it’s goal isn’t to alter or destroy system file. Rather, it’s designed to replicate itself continuously until all the resources and space on the system are consumed. A bit of a nightmare for the system administrator.
Risk 4 – Trojans
The Trojan horse is a program that masquerades as a legitimate application, but in actual fact contains code that allows a hacker remote access to your computer. Like the legend of the wooden horse the Greeks used, once inside your computer it’ll open and create an opening for the hacker.
Risk 5 – Spyware
Spyware invades computers usually through freeware or shareware downloads, which is why you should always download a program from a reputable source. The intent of spyware is to collect information about the user, and report it back to those who wrote it.
Risk 6 – Adware
Adware is very similar to spyware, in that one of its goals is to monitor the user. However, adware usually goes one step further and bombards the user with internet pop-up advertising, usually when they open their browser or a new tab. The advertising can be tame, or it can be extremely offensive.
Risk 7 – Hacking
While Hollywood would have you visualise the lifestyle of a hacker as something that’s quite alluring, in truth it’s quite the opposite. The average user is generally under the radar where a hacker is concerned. They’re mostly after the corporations, or famous people, but you can have your computer hacked by a neighbour, for example.
Risk 8 – Social Engineering
Social engineering is a relatively modern term in the history of computer security. Social engineering will have the user deceived into giving away personal information or allowing a scammer into their systems. The recent spate of calls from people claiming to be from the likes of Microsoft or a security firm, are a prime example.
Risk 9 – Phishing
Much in the same vein as social engineering, phishing is the act of obtaining sensitive information (bank details usually) about a user by being disguised as a trustworthy source. Phishing on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and so on are on the rise.
Risk 10 – Rootkits
Rootkits are virus-like programs that are activated before the computer’s anti-virus and security suites are started when booting Windows. They can change the way a security suite looks at files. This allows a virus to hide in plain sight and not be detected by the system’s security measures.
You can find this security guide, and many more like it, in Protect Your PC – Vol 34, on sale now!