The Most Common Threats to Your PC

By: Amber Newby | May 13, 2014 (Edited July 7, 2017)

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Security Breaches and Your Computer's Safety

The world of the Internet and computer technology is growing and evolving day by day, and with that continued expansion arises both positive and negative side effects. The positive effects come in the form of improving our overall connectives across the globe. It's the negative ones, the ever-expanding list of security threats to computer users worldwide, that should really be taken into consideration. After all, the best way to protect your PC and ensure you remain connected is by becoming a smarter Internet user who knows of the threats that are out there. Here's a list of the most common potential security breaches facing your PC today.

The Malicious Programs Known As Computer Viruses

One common security threat that most people have likely heard of is the computer virus. In simple terms, these viruses are malicious forms of self-replicating software that are embedded into existing programs to spread from computer to computer, installing themselves into a system for an express purpose that's never good for that system's user. Once it becomes active in your computer, a virus can execute any number of damaging actions, such as corrupting your files/software/data, stealing personal information, and deleting portions of your system or entire hard drives full of data. Exactly what will occur depends on the particular virus that's able to get installed on your system, either through you clicking a malicious link, downloading malicious software, or simply visiting a compromised website.

The Trojan Horses That Are Hiding in Plain Sight

Not to be confused with computer viruses, a Trojan horse is a non-self-replicating piece of malicious software that will disguise itself as a legitimate update or tool, compelling users to download it under the assumption that nothing is wrong. Unlike a virus, a Trojan won't replicate itself or spread by infecting other files. Instead, it requires you, the user, to grant it access into your computer (via download/install) in order for it to perform its intended tasks. Just like the historical example of the wooden Trojan horse containing enemy soldiers taken in by the city of Troy and spelling their demise, a Trojan horse on your computer has the potential to cause the same degree of damage. Common uses of computer Trojans today include installing keystroke logging software to monitor and record everything a user types on his or her keyboard, installing programs that are capable of hijacking and granting remote access to a user's webcam, or even establishing a back door into a computer that allows for all sorts of rogue operations to take place right under a user's nose.

The Independent and Fast-Spreading Computer Worms

Computer worms are very unique security threats in that, unlike viruses, they can propagate to other computers without any human action being taken by a user, and without any need to attach to an existing program or piece of software. A lot of worms active across many different networks have only been programmed to spread as quickly as possible and won't take any action once embedded in a particular system. At the same time, there do exist worms that propagate across networks that end up creating a tremendous amount of strain on that network, either causing it to run incredibly slow or shut down altogether. Worms, due to the tremendous speed at which they can freely spread across the Internet, are also commonly used for establishing what are called botnets. A botnet is a collection of "zombie" computers that have been infected by a worm and that can then be collectively used by whoever released the worm in the first place for executing a range of different tasks, including the sending of spam or the launching of denial-of-service attacks against other systems.


Computer security against the threats that have the potential to do major harm to users all over the world will continue to be an ongoing issue in the years ahead. The best thing you can do as one of those users, aside from running antivirus software and performing regular checks of your system, is to be aware of what sort of threats are actually out there so that you aren't caught off guard. The most common examples come in the form of viruses, Trojan horses, and worms. Each can have devastating results for your PC and, as a result, should be guarded against at all costs.


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Written by Amber Newby

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