Top 7 Common Internet Threats

When on the internet, it helps if you’re at least a little cautious. Over the years, the internet has evolved and expanded, and for the most part, this has been good. However, there are an increasing number of computer hackers that like to prey on unsuspecting computer users online, to retrieve sensitive information from their computers. The reality is, for the majority of computer users, they aren’t even aware of it, until after it’s happened.

While, the internet is the perfect place for you to share information and communicate with others, there are tons of malicious threats that you need to be aware of.

  1. Rogue Security Software

While on the internet, have you ever been greeted with a pop-up window that was advertising a security alert or update? These pop-ups look very authentic and will usually ask you to click on a link in order to remove a malicious threat from your computer – usually one it has conveniently detected. In most cases, this is actually rogue security software that is designed to trick you into downloading and installing it. You can find a list of all the most common rogue security tools on Microsoft’s website, so I recommend you look that up.

  1. Pharming

Pharming, it’s much like phishing (which I haven’t gotten into yet), but it’s more complex as it’s designed to exploit DNS systems. Pharmers work by mimicking websites of authentic businesses, such as a login page for a bank site. The user will be tricked into entering their details into the page, to log in, unbeknownst to them, that their details have been transferred to the hackers email account.

  1. Spam

Spam is a term typically used to describe email spam, which is those unwanted emails that your inbox is inundated with. Spam is a big issue, as the clutter can very easily fill up your mailbox, as well as consume potential space on your mail server. Spam, is pretty much harmless, as it’s just emails that are of no interest to you. However, some of these spam emails can contain links that could, when clicked on, install malicious files on your computer – so that’s something to consider.

  1. Rootkit

A rootkit is basically a series of tools that are used to obtain administrative access to a network of computers or an individual computer system. Rootkits can get onto your computer in a number of different ways. A cybercriminal could install one, by exploiting a known vulnerability. Or there could be a security hole in an application that contains spyware which records and monitors your activity.

Rootkits became more known around early 2005, when a security blogger discovered that Sony BMG Music Entertainment had put a copy-protection tool on all of their CDs, which they were using to monitor whenever someone copied the contents of a CD onto their systems. At that particular time, it was warned that, such programs could be used to allow a hacker to gain access to a system without the user knowing.

  1. Phishing

Phishing scams are basically methods used by cybercriminals to obtain sensitive information from an unsuspecting victim. Most phishing scams are deployed via email, and are designed to resemble legitimate emails from known companies. For example, they could send you an email that pretends to be an email from your bank, telling you that you need to update your information on their site. It’ll then provide you with a link, which when clicked on, will take you to a fake site, which will ask you to verify your account details.

  1. Adware

Adware is basically a kind of malicious software which displays ads on your computer while you are surfing the web. These ads, when you click on them, will usually send you to an advertising website, which will collect data about you, without your knowledge or consent.

Adware is usually included in freeware and shareware software downloads, as a legitimate means of generating revenue for the free product you’ve downloaded. However, some of the websites that you are directed to, may contain malicious software, which can infect your computer. There are a plethora of virus types that can infiltrate your system through these means.

  1. Worms

Worms typically get onto an end users computer either through an email attachment or from a USB stick. Once your system has been infiltrated by the worm, it will immediately try to spread itself, by logging into your email account and sending itself to everyone in your address book. To those that receive the email, it may appear legitimate, until they make the mistake of opening the email, only to be infected with the worm – and the circle repeats itself.


Uchenna Ani-Okoye is a former IT Manager who now runs his own computer support website