We’ve all heard of computer viruses and malware, but they’re not the only hassles you need to be on the lookout for. The more problems you’re aware of, the more likely you are to avoid them. Here’s a quick run-down of the most common, and some of the less common, IT nasties out there.
Ransomware is malware that locks you out of your files and demands that you pay money – a ransom – for the lock to be lifted. This malware usually gets in through phishing emails with attachments and pop-up adverts.
Your ransomware may lock you out entirely, or just encrypt some shared networks, or external hard drives, or even cloud storage.
You shouldn’t pay the ransom, as these demands are meant to intimidate you into paying. There’s no guarantee that the lock will be lifted even after you do pay!
If you’ve been infected with ransomware, the first thing you should do is to call a professional. Whether you have IT support in Birmingham or a remote provider, it’s important to find out if you can retrieve your files.
One thing you can do to help yourself is to back up your data to an external storage drive, just in case you can’t get it back.
You may not have heard of botnets because they tend to evade detection. It’s a collection of software robots that go out and infect computers; these computers are controlled by the creator – yours could be one and you might not even know it.
They can send out spam, spread malware and “help” to send out denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Hacking is when someone gets unauthorised access to a computer and gets into your information. Hackers can install malicious software, steal your bank details or your identity.
Malware is a more common way to get into or damage your PC – it can be viruses, spyware, adware or a Trojan horse. It can bombard you with pop-up messages and false information, reformat your hard drive so you lose all your data, send out emails purporting to be you, or steal your sensitive information.
Phishing is easy – it’s just fake emails, messages and websites that look authentic. You believe it’s from a trusted provider and fill in your personal details – including bank details and passwords – so the criminals can steal your info and access your accounts.
Spyware and adware
These types of malware are used by online criminals to get into your computer or device.
Once it’s gained access, it can start to collect your personal information without you even being aware of it. These malicious programmes are often disguised as free downloads and can often be installed without your consent. They’re especially annoying as they’re hard to get rid of and can carry on infecting your PC with viruses and other forms of malware.
It can pass on your information, including passwords and usernames, settings, your operating system and browsing habits to third parties. At the least it can swamp you with pop-ups and divert you to dodgy or unwanted websites.