What can you do to improve your cybersecurity?
The first step in protecting yourself is to recognize the risks. Familiarize yourself with the following terms to better understand the risks:
- Hacker, attacker, or intruder – These terms are applied to the people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their own gain. Although their intentions are sometimes benign and motivated by curiosity, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems they are exploiting. The results can range from mere mischief (creating a virus with no intentionally negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering information).
- Malicious code – Malicious code (also called malware) is unwanted files or programs that can cause harm to a computer or compromise data stored on a computer. Various classifications of malicious code include viruses, worms, and Trojan horses. (See Protecting Against Malicious Code for more information.) Malicious code may have the following characteristics:
- It might require you to actually do something before it infects your computer. This action could be opening an email attachment or going to a particular webpage.
- Some forms of malware propagate without user intervention and typically start by exploiting a software vulnerability. Once the victim computer has been infected, the malware will attempt to find and infect other computers. This malware can also propagate via email, websites, or network-based software.
- Some malware claims to be one thing, while in fact doing something different behind the scenes. For example, a program that claims it will speed up your computer may actually be sending confidential information to a remote intruder.
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