Common Security Threats

Defense Through Understanding

1. Viruses

Software that is capable of replication and transmission from one machine to another usually without consent from the user. Viruses can also spread through removable media such as CDs or flash drives, networks, or even the internet. Occasionally a virus can be mistakenly classified as a "Worm" or "Trojan Horse."


Capabilities Summary

  • Deletion of files and loss of data.
  • Reformatting the hard drive (total loss of all data & settings.)
  • Replication across various machines.
  • Use up system resources and decrease overall performance.
  • Can cause erratic system behavior thereby causing crashes.


Prevention Methods

  1. Antivirus software using Virus Signature Definitions - This type of antivirus protection passively scans through the memory and storage looking for known "source code patterns." All the data scanned through is compared to a database of known virus signatures and if a match is found; so is the virus.
  2. Antivirus software using Behavioral Pattern Recognition -


Risk Level: Dangerous

2. Spam

Electronic junk email. Every day, the amount of spam circulating around the internet increases and accounts for a large portion of the traffic as well (approx. 90 billion messages a day.)


Capabilities Summary



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Risk Level: Low

3. Spoofing

An individual or program that masquerades as another. The most common form is URL spoofing, in which a website LOOKS like a real website with a similar looking URL address.



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Risk Level: Medium

4. Phishing

Commonly used in conjunction with spoofing, the act phishing (pronounced fishing) involves tricking users into thinking they are connected to a legitimate & trusted site. Once users are connected, criminals then attempt to gather various types of user login information that could then be used to steal financial assets or identities.


Capabilities Summary:

  • Identity Theft
  • Loss of financial assets
  • Loss or Distribution of Personal Account Information


Prevention Methods



Risk Level: Highly Dangerous

5. Spyware

Software installed secretly without the consent of the user. This kind of software is then used to monitor user activity, report back to a remote destination, and gather intelligence on it's targets.



Capabilities Summary



Prevention Methods



Risk Level: High

6. Keystroke Logging aka "Keylogging"

Another type of software installed secretly without the consent of the user. Usually installed alongside a Trojan Horse or Virus.


Capabilities Summary



Prevention Methods



Risk Level: High

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