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WHAT IS A CYBER THREAT ?

Suppose you are browsing your favourite news website to get your daily dose of news and current affairs. Suddenly, a pop up appears asking you to click a link in it to claim a free Apple iPod. Just out of curiosity you click the link in the pop-up and …oops! Everything goes haywire on your computer. It is no longer responding to your mouse clicks. Strange messages start appearing on your screen, and you have no control over them — the news that you wire reading gets covered with a dark screen and so on.

Why did this happen? The pop-up you clicked contained a virus. When you clicked on the pop-up, the virus code got executed and infected your computer,  making it behave in a strange way. This is only one example of a cyber-threat. Many more such threats loom in every nook and corner of the cyber world.

A Cyberthreat is any act or incident (related to the cyber world of the internet) that can cause harm to as, our computer or information stored on our computer. For example, the computer becoming unstable, computer files getting deleted, critical personal information being stolen, etc. let us learn about some common types of cyber threats that one may face while browsing the web and interacting on social networking websites. Thereafter we will learn the ways to protect ourselves from these threats.

Malware

Malware, short for malicious software, is a software that is used to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or invasive software.  Let us learn about them.

  1. Virus – A computer virus is a software program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another or perform other activities like delete or modify files. Such programs infect some executable software, and when the program runs triggered by some action taken by the user, the virus gets activated and causes harm to the program.
  2. Worms – Worm is a software program that actively transmits itself over a network to infect other computers, but unlike a virus, it has the capability to travel without any human action-A worm is similar to a virus by design and is considered to be a sub-class of a virus that utilizes file of information transport protocols on the system that allows worms to travel unaided.
  3. Trojan Horse – A Trojan horse is a version of the virus which, unlike a computer virus, does not attempt to inject itself into other files. Instead, a trojan horse is programmed to deceive the user by appearing to be a genuine file (like an image or video or a software utility). However, when used, it performs other malicious activities like making copies of itself, stealing information, or harming their host computer systems. Trojans sometimes access personal information like email addresses, credit card numbers stored locally at home or on business computers, then sends this data to a remote party via the Internet.
  4. Spyware – Spyware includes software programs that are installed on your computer to steal information from your computer on an ongoing basis without your knowledge. Hackers may install key logger software that will be able to track and report to the hackers of all the keystrokes you make on your computer:

Adware

Adware is the short form for advertising-supported software. It is a software program that automatically brings up advertisements in the form of pop-ups. The objective of Adware is to lure you into clicking on the advertisement in what is called a pay-for-click advertisement  model. Mostly adware is annoying but other than that it is harmless.

Spam

Most of us use email. You may have seen unwanted emails that come to you promoting some products. Some of these products or services may be genuine; some may be fake. These unwanted messages by email or even by SMS are known as Spam. Some Spam messages are sent to lure you to take actions that may lead to other unwanted implications like downloading of malware on your computer.

Denial of Service (DoS)

Whenever you are prevented from using a website or any other online resource by a deliberate action by somebody, it can be termed as a “denial of Service” attack. Some of the ways through which it can be done includes attempts to “flood” a network by writing a program that will send too many requests that will end up crashing the website. Since the website is not designed to handle such traffic, it will prevent legitimate network traffic.

Hacking

The process of breaking into computer networks and collecting the personal details of others, if it is done for ethical reasons is called hacking. However, if it is done with mal-intent, it is called cracking.

Criminals, Hackers, or Crackers use hacking against individuals or organizations. Hacking by criminal hackers is looked upon as a crime. There are mainly two types of criminal hacking: password hacking and cybercriminal hacking or cracking.

  1. Password hackers use different methodologies to find the details of other users, especially their mail passwords with mal-intent.
  2. Crackers use various methods to hack into the systems of others. Crackers also use their skills in social networking sites like www.facebook.Com and crash the accounts of others. They also unblock blocked sites and include malware and spyware in it. 

Phishing

“Phishing” or “Web spoofing” is a type of cyber-crime, where fraudulent websites are used to trick yours into giving away confidential personal information such as credit card numbers, account usernames, and passwords and ID numbers.

A phishing attempt usually starts with an email asking you to click on a web link to check something about your bank account. When you click on the link, you go to a page where you are asked for information. The page appears genuine but is in fact counterfeit. Phishers may then use the personal information you give on the page to steal your identity or your money.

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