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Main Types of Computer Security Threats That Harm Your Company
Martin Horan

By: Martin Horan on March 15th, 2017

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Main Types of Computer Security Threats That Harm Your Company

Cyber and Data Security

No business is safe from the computer security threats that permeate today’s digital world. As the technology you implement to run your enterprise becomes more advanced, so do the cyber criminals trying to exploit your systems. It can be a frightening and overwhelming reality for companies of all sizes and in all types of industries. A single security breach has the potential to endanger your critical data assets, incur immense costs and even put you out of business. In the face of these risks, what is your company doing to defend itself?  

Just because no business is free from the threats that exist in the digital landscape, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to prepare your organization and protect your information. Your first line of defense is always education and training. Knowing what you’re up against is the only way to form a proper security plan. The following list is a breakdown of some of the most common types of computer security threats that can bring real harm to your company. Use this knowledge as a foundation for executing a proper security training program and plan that helps safeguard your organization.  

Hackers

At the other end of every security breach is an individual with malicious intent. Most often, businesses are targeted by hackers for financial gain. These predators are seeking out opportunities to capitalize on vulnerabilities, and they are the reason why your organization needs to be on high alert.

To avoid being victimized by hackers, you must stay vigilant and employ a comprehensive security plan, including file sharing and data management solutions that work hard to keep your critical business assets safe. In addition, your employees need continual education and training on ways to recognize threats and thwart attacks.

Without this reinforcement, they are highly susceptible to accidentally inviting an intruder who can do irreparable damage to your company.

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Viruses

Viruses are dangerous, they’re costly and they could be happening right now if you don’t have the proper protocols in place to ensure prevention. A virus is a piece of software created to damage a computer. The program replicates and executes itself, interfering with the way a computer operates. It can steal data, corrupt your files or delete them altogether, which is a menacing threat to any business.

A virus may also leverage other programs on the machine, such as email, to infect additional computers, and it can be transmitted by a user via a network, USB stick or other media.

Spyware

This malicious software does exactly what its name suggests: spy on the user without their knowledge or permission. If a spyware program is installed on a computer in your organization, the criminal who executed it has the ability to monitor activity on that device, collecting information to use against the user or the business (e.g., financial data, login information, website visits).

Some spyware can detect keystrokes, redirect web browsers, alter computer settings or install other dangerous programs. Therefore, it is critical to put protections in place -- and update them consistently -- to thwart spyware attacks.

Adware

When unwanted advertisements start appearing on a computer, it has been victimized by adware. Your employees may accidentally download adware while trying to access free software, and it can be used to retrieve information without permission or knowledge as well as redirect your users’ browsers.

Phishing

A phishing scam tricks an internal user into providing information such as usernames and passwords that can be used to breach your system. This information is solicited from employees through email and disguised as legitimate requests (e.g., a vendor or financial institution asking for login details in order to fix an account or resolve an issue). Once the recipient hands over the sensitive information, the hacker gains the access they need to lock up, steal or otherwise compromise your company’s critical data.

Some phishing techniques use keyloggers in combination with sophisticated tracking components to target specific information and organizations. There are also spear-phishing emails that result in a small piece of malware being downloaded to the user's computer without their knowledge, unleashing a network breach that may go undetected for long periods of time.

Ultimately, a single phishing attack can endanger the business’s entire network and leave every last file exposed.

Worms

Wiggling its way into your network, a worm is deployed to self-replicate from one computer to another. What makes it different from a virus, however, is that it requires no user interaction in order to spread.

This software is applied to reproduce in large quantities in a very short period of time, and it can both wreak havoc on your network performance and be used to launch other malicious attacks throughout your system.

Spam

You’re probably already familiar with spam, as this junk email tends to clog up business servers and annoy recipients across the organization.

Spam becomes a computer security threat when it contains harmful links, overloads your mail server or is harnessed to take over a user’s computer and distribute additional spam.

Botnets

A botnet can be used for anything from targeting attacks on servers to running spam email campaigns. As botnets typically involve so many computers, many businesses find them difficult to stop.

Basically, this computer security threat is deployed by a botmaster, who commands a number of bots, or compromised computers, to run malicious activities over an Internet connection. The collection of infected computers is often referred to as a “zombie army,” carrying out the ill intent of the botmaster.

If your organization’s network of computers is overtaken by a botnet, your system could be subsequently used to assault other networks by the likes of viruses, worms, Trojan horses and DDoS attacks.

Rootkits

Imagine having a cyber attacker gain complete control over one of your computers or, worse, an entire network of them. That is what a rootkit, or collection of software implemented to procure administrator-level access, is designed to accomplish.

A hacker obtains this access through other threats and vulnerabilities, such as phishing scams, spyware or password weaknesses. The rootkit has the ability to go undetected and enables the originator to modify existing software -- even the security applications employed to protect your computers.

DOS Attacks

In a DOS (Denial-of-Service) attack, your company’s website or web service can be rendered unavailable to users. Often, these attacks are used against businesses for ransom or blackmail purposes.

Perhaps the most well known version is DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service), which involves bombarding your server with traffic and requests in order to overwhelm and shut down the system.

With the system and its defenses down, an intruder has the capability to confiscate data or hold your operation hostage.

Don’t allow your organization to be terrorized by these computer security threats. If you don’t have one already, formulate a strong plan to safeguard your business’s critical data and protect your assets.

For expert assistance on developing an effective security training program, get your free Data Security Training Guide (Your Employees Can Be Your Biggest Risk).

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About Martin Horan

Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.

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