Computers helps use to make work easier in organizations and even at home. Almost every organization makes use of computers to carry out its activities and most individuals have personal computers with which they use for data storage and accessing the internet. However, there are a number of risks that computers are exposed to, more so when using them to access the internet. This paper seeks to identify potential threats to personal computers and some of the techniques a computer attacker can use to access information on computer systems.
Potential Security Threats on a Personal Computer
Common security threats on personal computers include, viruses, spyware, worms and spam. This are introduced into computers in various ways and serve a number of purposes including destroying computer files, distorting servers and stealing information from personal computers.
Spam is a common computer risk that many computer users tend to ignore. Many people consider spam to be junk mail; which is the case but more often than not, we do retrieve legitimate mails from spam. Many do not understand how spam emails come about. There are Trojans which we encounter while using the internet and these Trojans get access to our email addresses, websites and any other place that email addresses can be retrieved and send spam emails to personal mailboxes. The spam emails clog users’ mailboxes and slow down the speeds of internet servers and in a way or another, helps spammers to gain access of personal information of the computer user.
The most prominent of computer threats is the virus. Virus in itself is a software that computer users find in their computers most times without then noticing the exact time it came into the computer. Viruses do replicate and in so doing affect computers to great immensely dangerous levels. Computer users invite viruses when using networks accessed by more than one computer users as it moves from one user to another and multiply to affect even more. Most virus results into computers losing data as some of them delete files or even format disks in the computers. However, most of them cause no harm but publish messages, audios or even videos on the computer that results into erroneous working of such computers which may lead to computers crashing.
Just like the computer virus, spywares in computers are software and these also find their way into personal computers without the owners having knowledge of them. They do two major things to personal computers which include either monitoring what the owner of the computer does on his/her computer or taking control of what is done on the computer. Most computers have information such as password, credit card details and browsing history collected and transferred elsewhere. Spy can do further damages such as diverting revenue, mostly generated from advertisements through the internet.
More similar to the computer virus is the computer worm. The worm replicates itself and it’s a computer program that spreads rapidly collecting information and storing the same within itself and transmitting it other computer networks. The first effect of the computer one that a computer user will feel is a poorly performing computer network due to the self-replicating behaviour of the computer worm. The worst case of a personal computer infested by computer worms is the vulnerability to computer hackers. Payloads delivered by the worms are inviting to hackers who then gain control of the computer and can do anything they desire with it; including using is as one through which cyber-crimes are committed.
Techniques an Attacker Might Employ to Access Information on Computer systems
A number of techniques are employed by computer attackers to install the discussed computer risks into personal computers and therefore gain information from the computer systems without authorization. One of the techniques that attackers apply includes ensuring that various infrastructure that ensure computer security on shared servers are locked down and thus the risks that are discussed get their way into personal computers; some of which retrieve personal information from those computers.
Secondly, attackers use unprotected networks to command computer risks such as spyware into personal computers. Illustrating this, most neighbourhoods today servers and at times applications that are hosted externally. These are connected to multiple computers and it is instances like this that allow attackers to launch viruses, spyware and computer warms into personal computers and thus easily steal information from them, some of which may result into serious losses including financial losses.
For spammers who attack personal computers through spam emails, they make use of botnets. Botnets gain access of one computer’s information and manipulates it and from this spam emails are sent to other computers mailboxes, which results clogging of such mailboxes and can eventually result into the theft of such computers’ information.
Lastly, attackers also exploit social networking where links that leads computers to risks are published. Clicking on these links leads computers users to inviting virus, spyware or worms to their computers.
To conclude, major risks that computers are exposed to include viruses, spyware, computer worms and spam. Computer users need to watch out for this as it exposes their computers to loss of personal information which can be used by attackers who make use of among other techniques shared servers and social networking to disseminate the same into personal computers.
Pfleeger, C. P., & Pfleeger, S. L. (2002). Security in computing. Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference.