Modern Day Virus Threats: How Do They Work?
Cyber threats are constantly evolving. Even though many of the current antivirus software is equipped to protect you from an infinite number of online threats, you still need to make sure you have the right software from a reputable company.
Malware is used to describe the various malicious computer programs that can infect your computers, tablets, mobile phones, and other electronic devices. Unlike software you choose to download onto your computer, malware is installed without the user’s permission. Once allowed onto your device, the malware can wreak havoc by stealing your data, slowing down your computer’s performance, encrypting your data, or even render your device useless.
Because the first step in protecting yourself against online threats is understanding them, we have compiled a list of the most current computer virus threats. While some of these threats are easier to spot than others, it is in your best interest to protect yourself from all of them with respected antivirus software. For comprehensive reviews of the best antivirus currently available, make sure you read through our antivirus software reviews.
Top 9 Modern Computer Virus Threats
While there are infinite numbers of online threats, several categories are generally used to describe the most common malware and online threats.
- Computer Virus
When we think of online threats, we generally think of computer viruses. However, computer viruses are just one type of malware used to steal your data. Sometimes these viruses can come from websites, email attachments, shared drives, or on physical media.
It can be hard to detect one of these computer viruses on your computer. This is because the viruses can also act like real viruses and change or evolve as they are on your computer. For that reason, it’s essential to have antivirus on your computer that constantly monitors and protected your online data.
Unlike viruses, worms do not need human help to infect, self-replicate, or spread throughout your computer. Once your device is infected, they will establish their entry point and spread throughout your device from there. If you have your computer connected to any network, the worm can also spread through other devices throughout that network.
Worms can also evolve or change as they are on your computer. They can exploit any of your network’s vulnerabilities and find the places where your laptop is the weakest. Generally, these worms will delete or steal files on your computer.
Adware is likely one of the most common types of online threats that you’ll encounter. An example of adware is popup ads that come on web pages or ads that are all part of an app or software that advertised itself as free. Generally, adware programs will automatically deliver these advertisements to the computers that they infect.
Typically, the adware can be harmless but sometimes it can be used to redirect search results, display ad popups that cannot be closed, lead you to links to malware, disable your antivirus, or even install certain types of spyware.
You can automatically install adware when you click any buttons to agree to a term to service statement or agree to cookies online. Even though adware can be installed with your consent, you may not be aware of everything that you agree to have on your computer. After all, not many people read the small print of those agreements. So, just be careful before you click on any unknown links on your computer.
Spyware does exactly what it sounds like. When spyware is installed on your computer, it will spy on what you’re doing, what you search for on your computer, and what you download. Typically, spyware will collect all data related to your computer, such as keystrokes, habits that you use while browsing, your location, and on occasion, your login information.
Not all spyware is malicious. Sometimes, the adware will include spyware so that companies can monitor what you’re looking at online to give you better-targeted ads. Spyware is still considered malware because you did not intentionally download the spyware onto your computer, and it is still watching your private browsing.
In other cases, spyware can be malicious because it does sell user data. While this can be to companies using apps, sometimes the spyware can sell your data to cybercriminals. So if you do not want your location, login information, passwords, or financial information to be stolen, it’s best to find antivirus software.
Ransomware will infect your computer, encrypt your information, and then demand money for its safe release. Typically, if you refuse to pay what the ransomware is asking, your data may be deleted or shared with other cybercriminals who wish to steal it.
While some ransomware will target specific information like your financial information or passwords, other ransomware may lock you out of your computer entirely. Sometimes the ransomware can claim to be from a legitimate form of law enforcement or government, while other times it may be a completely different scheme.
Bots are online programs that hackers can design to carry out specific operations. While many bots will serve legitimate purposes, they’ve also become a modern type of widespread malware. Once a bot is on your computer, it can execute specific commands on your computer without your approval or consent. On occasion, you may not even know the bot is on your computer and making changes until it’s too late.
Hackers have figured out how to create what is known as a botnet, which is short for a robot network. These botnets allow hackers to completely control your computer from a remote location. When they have control of your computer, they can steal your data, spy on your activity, and install other malicious software.
Rootkits are malware that will allow outside parties to have access or control of your computer. These programs are typically used by IT professionals working remotely and trying to install certain software onto people’s computers. While they are helpful, they can be nefarious if used by the wrong people. Once rootkits are installed on your computer, online cybercriminals can take complete control of your computer, steal your data, or install other malware. Typically, rootkits are designed to be wholly unnoticed and hidden from the user.
Adequate protection from rootkits involves highly effective antivirus software. To protect your information for rootkits, it’s essential to have live and real-time monitoring on your computer that can look for unusual behavior.
- Trojan Horses
Trojan horses, commonly known as Trojans, are malware that appears to be regular files or software. Once these Trojans are downloaded and installed, they will make changes to your computer and activate malicious activities. Typically, Trojans will go unnoticed and can do plenty of damage before you find out that they’re even on your computer.
Bugs are flaws in a computer software code and not exactly a type of malware. However, the errors in the software code are common areas for hackers and cybercriminals to attack. Because these are seen as a weak spot on your computer, they can cause various problems, including freezing, crashing, slower performance, and more. Further, security bugs make it easier for online attackers to get out of your network’s defenses.
Common Computer Virus Myths
Many people do not understand computer viruses or their subsets. For that reason, it’s essential to be thoroughly knowledgeable about computer viruses and understand the myths. Below are some common misconceptions regarding computer viruses.
- Any computer error may contain viruses. While it may be true that error messages can carry viruses, some messages can simply be faulty hardware or software bugs.
- Viruses and worms require user interaction to activate entirely. This is false because even though viruses do require host activation, worms can perform their malicious intents without any interaction from the host computer.
- All email attachments from people that you know are safe. This is false because sometimes computer viruses or malware can take over one of your known sender’s computers and send you malware through files.
- Antivirus programs are guaranteed to stop all online threats. While many antivirus companies will do their best to produce the best malware developments, you need to make sure that you have one of the top antivirus software installed to protect yourself. For this reason, you may want to purchase a paid subscription instead of a free version. That way, you will be protected against most of the modern online threats.
Now it’s time to find antivirus software that will work with your computer. Because not all antivirus software is created equal, it is vital to find credible software and is known to protect against online threats. Further, you will also want to find an antivirus that has real-time monitoring so that it can constantly scan your computer for any abnormal behavior.
However, it can take a long time to find the right computer software for your needs. So instead of spending hours online trying to find the right software, check out some of our reviews of the top antivirus software currently available. Our researchers have done all of the work so that you don’t have to.