Cyber Security Threats You Must Know – Part 1

New cyber security threats emerge every day – but they all tend to fall into eleven key categories. In this first article of our two-part series, we will take a look at five of them.


Pre-dating the internet, malware is one of the oldest cybersecurity threats in existence. Previously known as ‘computer viruses’, malware has become a blanket term to describe any form of malicious software – many of which we will discuss in this article.

Rule of thumb: If you didn’t install it, it’s malware.


Probably the most terrifying form of malware, ransomware causes sleepless nights for IT managers across the world. A self-replicating worm, ransomware infects a system and then encrypts the contents of the drive. An infection means immediate – and often catastrophic – loss of data. Worse still, ransomware continues to replicate across a compromised network, specifically targeting backups as well as other insecure systems.

There are two ways to recover from a ransomware outbreak. First, pay the ransom demanded by the criminal organisation behind the infection and hope they supply the decryption key. Two, restore compromised systems and data from a secure, clean backup – which is often easier said than done.


The internet is already cluttered with annoying, intrusive (and sometimes downright creepy) ads. Adware makes things even worse, generating random pop-ups in your browser or on your desktop, anything to claim a quick click.

The scammers behind adware will be paid for every time an ad is viewed or clicked. So they will flood your machine with ads in an attempt to trick you into clicking.


Spyware typically records keystrokes and other activities that take place on a compromised computer. If that sounds the same as activity monitoring software used by some firms to assess the performance of their remote workers, that’s because it is.

The only difference is that spyware is typically used by scammers to harvest sensitive personal information like usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. All the basic information required for identity theft or other forms of digital fraud.


For expert cybercriminal gangs, trojans are an important tool for gaining, and maintaining, access to a victim’s network. The trojan runs as a background process, allowing hackers to control the infected computer remotely.

Often the machine will simply harvest and exfiltrate data from the compromised network. As a result, the infection may go unnoticed for weeks or months. When deployed as part of a larger, long-term attack, the trojan-infected device can act as a jumping-off point, allowing hackers to attack the victim’s network from inside their perimeter security defences.

Don’t pretend it won’t happen

Malware, and all the variants described here, are a very real and present danger. It is almost certain that every organisation will experience an infection eventually – and being prepared in advance will be critical to containing the spread and limiting damage.

To learn more about the cyber security threats you face – and how to overcome them, please give the WTL team a call.

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