What are eSecurity risks?

Some tech jargon can be confusing. In simple terms, eSecurity (or internet security) covers a range of activities to keep electronic information secure. Poor eSecurity can result in the corruption of files, data loss, and the risk of criminals being able to access personal and financial information.

What is a virus?

A computer virus is a script of malicious computer code that can replicate itself and can send itself out to other computers via the internet. By inserting itself into a computer’s file system, viruses can damage computers, delete files, reformat a hard disk, steal information and spread to other computers. In many cases, a user unintentionally runs an executable program that releases the virus. Viruses can be transmitted by email, through infected downloads including new software, images, music files, infected computer devices such as a USB or when surfing the web.

What is a trojan?

A trojan is a program that can damage a computer, steal private data, give other people access to a computer or spread a virus. It is a malicious program that is hidden within another program and often looks like a genuine application. The shell program is usually not malicious, but when users willingly open the program, the malware is released into a computer’s system.

What is a worm?

A worm is like a virus and usually hides in non-malicious code. It is a self-replicating program that can spread without user intervention. Worms are designed to further infect computers with other types of malicious software, such as programs that send spam. A worm can spread by sending itself to contacts in an email address book, or by a security flaw in a program or in the computer’s operating system. Worms can generally be avoided by setting a browser to reject pop-up windows and by not clicking on anything that looks suspicious.

What is malware?

Malware is short for ‘malicious software’ – a blanket term for any type of computer program or file designed to harm or gain unauthorised access to a computer, often without an owner’s knowledge. Malware is often spread through infected links and downloads. There are various types of malware, such as cryptolockers, keyloggers, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms. Malware programs range from pop-up advertising, password theft or damage caused by infecting other machines on the same network.

What is spyware?

Spyware is a computer program that is remotely installed on computers, usually without permission from the owner, with the purpose of secretly collecting information and sending it back to another source. Spyware is often used to target advertisements to users based on what a person views and purchases online.
Spyware can be a minor irritation or a serious threat to computer security. Types of information that may be collected includes websites visited, browser and system information and a computer’s IP address. At its most aggressive, spyware can be used to steal personal information, banking details and passwords. Spyware can cause a computer to run slowly.

What is adware?

Adware is a form of spyware that records a user’s web-surfing habits and displays advertisements targeted to their interests. Adware is sometimes offered in exchange for ‘free’ services, such as music downloads.

Some common virus signposts include:
  • files and data have been deleted or file names are changed
  • the computer takes longer to load programs or applications or web pages
  • the computer takes longer to boot, continually restarts or does not start at all
  • items and images on the screen are distorted and unusual images and text appear
  • the hard disk may be inaccessible or appear to be working harder than normal
  • excessive network activity (lights blinking excessively on modem)
  • the web browser opens on a different homepage
  • frequent system or program crashes.

Sign up for eSafety News

Stay up to date with online
issues, new resources, events, and the latest research.