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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
1.1.
Malware
1.1.1.
Virus
1.1.2.
Worms
1.1.3.
Bots
1.1.4.
Trojan Virus
1.1.5.
Spyware
1.1.6.
Adware
1.1.7.
Ransomware
1.1.8.
Fileless malware
1.1.9.
Scareware
1.1.10.
Rootkits
1.2.
Weak security
1.3.
Social media attacks
1.4.
Obsolete security software
1.5.
Social engineering
1.6.
Corporate data on personal devices
2.
FAQs
3.
Key Takeaways
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Threats to Information Security

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Introduction

Information security refers to the tools and processes designed and deployed to prevent unauthorized access, disruption, disclosure, modification, inspection, recording, or destruction of information or any unauthorized use of the data. In this definition, we saw that it is to prevent certain things, called threats to information security. Further in this article, we will discuss the various information security threats.

The primary information security threats are discussed below.

Malware

Malware is made from two words, malicious and software. It is a type of intrusive programming designed to perform malicious operations. It is of different kinds with different objectives. Some of them are discussed below.

Virus

A virus is a sub-group of malware that attaches to a document or file and then spreads from host to host. It is designed to disrupt a system's operating capability. It sits dormant attached to the host file until the file is opened. Viruses can cause significant data losses and operational issues.

Worms

Worms are also malicious software that can spread rapidly over a network. Unlike viruses, worms don't need a host program to spread. They can spread from a downloaded file or even a network connection. It ruptures the operating capability of a system and causes data loss.

Bots

Bots are the advanced version of worms. The difference is that bots are automated and don't need human interaction. After infecting one system, they can connect to the central server using the network and then provide commands for other affected systems.

Trojan Virus

Trojan viruses are disguised in the form of helpful software. After they get access to the system, they can delete, modify or block the sensitivity data. It can cause heavy damage to the performance of the system. Unlike viruses and worms, trojan viruses do not self-replicate.

Spyware

Spywares are not meant to harm the operations of a system. They are for information theft, as suggested by the name spy. This malicious software can grant remote access to a user revealing sensitive information of the target computer. One particular example of spyware can be a keylogger, where it records the keystrokes of the system to disclose passwords and other sensitive information. 

Adware

Adwares are malicious software that record users' behaviour and interests based on computer usage and provide target advertisements. Adwares are not necessarily harmful, but since they collect a lot of personal information, they can be used adversely on the user. Sometimes significant slow down of the system can occur due to excess adware. It can also redirect the user to unsafe sites. Due to these problems, a system needs to be scanned to check for these programs.

Ransomware

Ransomware is malicious software that targets sensitive information and encrypts it. And then, the hacker demands a financial payout from the user to decrypt that data. The encrypted data can only be decrypted by a mathematical key known only to the hacker. Ransomware is commonly part of a phishing scam where the user is tricked into downloading the ransomware, and then the hacker starts encrypting data on their system. When the hacker gets the payout, then the data is unlocked.

Fileless malware

Fileless malware resides in the system memory, and it operates from there only. Since it doesn't exist in the system's hard drive, it is difficult to detect and even challenging to analyze later because it disappears when the system is rebooted. In 2017, an example of file-less malware was discovered, namely DNSMessenger.

Scareware

Scareware tries to manipulate users into buying malicious, unnecessary, or useless software to extract money from them. They do so by creating a perception of threat to the user, creating anxiety and shock. And in that state of mind, if the user gets scared of the false warnings, they are most likely to spend money as instructed by the spyware.

Rootkits

Rootkits are malicious software granting the hacker root access (administrative access). Using this administrative access, the hacker can steal personal information and tamper with the system. Rootkits are difficult to find, which makes them more dangerous.

Weak security

Deployment of proper security measures is essential to maintain the integrity of information. There are many principles to be followed for more robust security. One of them is the least privilege principle, where the employees in a company are provided minimum information necessary to perform their functions. Another threat to security can be the ignorance of technology manufacturers where they deliberately ignore security to achieve competitive prices. There can be numerous other domains of weak security.

Social media attacks

Every person in today's world is connected using social media. So social media platforms have become a very obvious target for hackers. Social media can be used in numerous ways to perform information theft. Some of them are given below.

  • Brand impersonation: Hackers can impersonate a particular brand and convince users to reveal their personal and account information.
  • Spread malware: Similar to brand impersonation, hackers, can spread links leading to malware software all across the internet using fake ids.
  • Compromised profile: You may have often heard about the Twitter accounts of famous people getting hacked. The hackers then use these compromised profiles to extort money, spread false information, post malicious links, etc.

Obsolete security software

So far, we have discussed many techniques which a hacker can use to exploit your personal information. And these techniques keep evolving with the introduction of new technologies and security bugs in old software. Security measures also need to be developed to keep in check these evolving threats. There are plenty of companies providing security services, and they keep updating their software to counter the newer threats. So the users are always advised to update their security software whenever available.

Social engineering

Social engineering refers to the psychological manipulation of people to give up their confidential information like email id and passwords or account information. After gaining access to your email, the hackers can send emails with malicious attachments to your contact list impersonating you. This malicious software can be spread to other computers using this technique.

Corporate data on personal devices

Corporate data are sensitive, and hence they attract a lot of attention from hackers. Personal devices are prone to unauthorized access and exploitation since people don't pay much attention to security. And using personal devices for corporate affairs may lead to the leak of crucial information, which may cause significant damage to the company's profitability.

FAQs

  1. What is a trojan virus?
    It is software that misleads the users of its true intent.
  2. What are Worms?
    Worms are malicious software that replicates itself and spreads over a network to damage operational capabilities.
  3. Why are computer malware called virus?
    They are called a virus because of their similarity to biological viruses that attack the human system and spread from one person to another.
  4. When was the first computer virus created?
    The first computer virus was developed in 1986 and is called the 'brain.' It was targeted at the windows operating system.
  5. What is spyware?
    Spyware is malicious software used to obtain the user's personal information and use it negatively.
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Key Takeaways

In this article, we have extensively discussed the threats to information security topics. We hope that this blog has helped you enhance your knowledge regarding information security, and if you would like to learn more, check out our articles on:

  1. Types of cyber attackers
  2. Cyber Security and Cyber Crime
  3. Cyber Security Challenges
  4. Active and Passive Attacks
  5. Active Attack and Passive Attack


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