A simple introduction to common cyber threats like malware, viruses, and ransomware
In the vast sea of the digital world, imagine that we’re on an adventurous voyage. While this sea is filled with opportunities and discoveries, it’s also home to hidden threats – our ‘digital sea monsters.’ These monsters are analogous to the common cyber threats like malware, viruses, and ransomware.
Malware, our first sea monster, is a term used for malicious software that harms or exploits any computing device or network. Just as mythical sea monsters can take many shapes, so too can malware.
A species of the malware monster is the Virus. Like barnacles attaching to the hull of a ship, a computer virus attaches itself to clean files, spreads, and can cause a variety of issues – from annoying disruptions to critical system failures. An infamous real-life example is the “Conficker” virus in 2008. Despite the security patches released to curb it, the virus infected millions of computers worldwide, leading to considerable disruptions (1).
Another species under the malware umbrella is Ransomware, a ferocious beast that takes your data captive and demands a ransom for its release. Picture a sea monster gripping your ship and demanding treasure for your release. This is the modus operandi of ransomware. A vivid real-life example is the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, which locked users out of their systems worldwide until a ransom was paid, causing chaos in many critical sectors, including healthcare (2).
But fear not! Just as navigators of old used maps, compasses, and celestial navigation, we too have tools and techniques to guard against these threats.
Keeping your software updated is akin to maintaining the health of your ship; these updates often fix vulnerabilities that could be exploited by these sea monsters.
Imagine a trusty parrot that alerts you of upcoming danger; that’s your antivirus software, continually scanning for signs of these cyber threats.
AI and ML can be thought of as your magical telescope, spotting the threats even before they emerge. With the power to learn and adapt, they can identify threats based on behavioral patterns and defend against them proactively.
We must always remember that the digital sea, while abundant with opportunity, is also fraught with danger. Understanding these sea monsters and having the right tools and strategies in place will ensure our voyage remains fruitful and secure.
(1) Zetter, K. “The Zombie Worm is destroying the Internet.” WIRED, 2009. https://www.wired.com/2009/01/ff-conficker/
(2) Hern, A. “WannaCry ransomware attack ‘linked to North Korea’.” The Guardian, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/15/wannacry-ransomware-north-korea-lazarus-group