With the never-ending stream of IT security advice on offer these days, users may become confused by the technical explanations they hear.
From bots to botnets and Trojans to worms, the range of terminology can be rather daunting, which is why Prosyn has produced the following beginner’s guide to IT security vocab.
Trojans is a type of virus which takes its name from the famous Trojan horse used to infiltrate Troy in Greek mythology. A Trojan is a piece of software that conceals itself on a PC, often in plain sight. It may look legitimate but is, in fact, opening a back door to the machine, enabling hackers to gain access.
In terms of their distribution, Trojans can be binded to most file types and sent as an attachment, a fact which underlines the importance of only opening emails, which are sent from trusted contacts.
The term ‘bot’ stems from the word ‘robot’ and is fundamentally an automated process that attempts to scrape information from users on the internet. Bots perform tasks that are simple and structurally repetitive, much faster than would be possible for a human, so they can acquire insecure passwords and sensitive financial information with alarm speed. 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.
A worm is a piece of malware which does not require an infected file to travel between computer systems. Instead it replicates itself in order to spread, exploiting vulnerabilities in the target machine in order to gain access.
Many worms have been designed simply to propagate 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.