What Are the Different Threats to Computer Security?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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The different threats to computer security include those threats that attack not just the hardware of the computer, but also the software. These threats affect the normal functioning of the computer and may either lead to a malfunction, loss of data, monitoring, or loss of sensitive information. Things like computer viruses, Trojan horse, spyware, adware and unscrupulous characters are also sources of threats to the computer. Some of the threats to computer security are a result of accidents or the carelessness of people.

Apart from the physical threats to computer security, other types of threats are more insidious. An example is a computer virus that is a malicious program created by those with bad intentions to negatively alter the functioning of a computer without the permission of the owner of the computer. Normally, these viruses find their way into the computer where they secrete themselves inside various files like the program file or other documents. These may remain dormant until something sets them off. As soon as the virus is activated, it will proceed to cause substantial damage to the computer system by corrupting files and rendering them unusable, erasing the all the information on the hard disk and also randomly displaying preprogrammed messages.


Other types of non-physical threats to computer security include Trojan horse, which is a sly program that seems to provide some kind of benefit while serving a more sinister purpose. The purpose could be to grant a hacker access to a computer or to alter or damage certain files on a computer. Examples of these types of threats are unsolicited emails and viral links.

Adware and spyware are physical threats to computer security that are secretly installed on a user’s computer with the intention of monitoring the user's Internet use. Some of the things the monitor are the types of sites the user visits, the types of books or music the user downloads and other things like the sort of things the user orders over the internet. Sometimes, they display some types of ads that are tailored to the user based on the analysis of the user’s activity on the Internet.

Some criminal elements troll the Internet in search of unsuspicious people to prey on. They may send out phony letters claiming to be someone they are not to solicit for people’s email address, passwords and other types of personal information. The purpose behind this is to enable them gain unauthorized access to the individual’s computer with the intention of stealing the individual’s identity, money or other information. Then there are threats to computers simply out of carelessness by the owners. Such threats may include water leakages onto the computers and power surges that may affect the computer's infrastructure.


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