With a never-ending torrent of advice on IT security floating around the web, users might become confused by the vast array of threats. From bots to botnets and Trojans to worms, the sea of terminology can leave the uninitiated feeling overwhelmed.
Trojans are named after the Trojan horse, which was famously used to infiltrate Troy. A Trojan is a piece of software that hides on a PC, often in plain sight. While this software looks legitimate, it is in fact opening a back door to the machine, letting hackers in.
“Trojans can achieve any number of attacks on the host, from irritating the user (popping up windows or changing desktops) to damaging the host,” Cisco.com explains.
Trojans can be binded to any file type and then sent as an attachment, a fact which highlights the importance of only opening emails from trusted senders.
‘Bots’ stem from the word ‘robots’ and are essentially automated processes that attempt to scrape information from individual users.
Bots can scrape anything from passwords to financial information. Hackers can also combine the efforts of infiltrated computers to create a network of bots, known as a ‘botnet’. These are often then used to launch denial-of-service (DoS) attacks.
Worms are much like viruses, but rather than relying on the spreading of an infected file, they exploit vulnerabilities in systems and therefore can travel unaided.
Many worms have been designed simply to spread rather than changing the systems they pass through. However, as was proved by the Morris and Mydoom worms, even these “payload free” worms can lead to major side effects such as increasing network bandwidth usage.