Understanding Cyber Threats


Malware is short for malicious software. Software that disrupts or damages a computer's operation, gathers sensitive or private information, or gains access to private computer systems for the purpose of doing harm. Some common malware types encountered may include botnets, viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, adware, and rootkits.

Learn What the Threats Are


Adware is a type of malware that allows pop-up ads on a computer system, ultimately taking over a user's Internet browsing.


A botnet is a network of private computers, each of which is called a "bot", infected with malicious software (malware) and controlled as a group without the owners' knowledge for nefarious and, often, criminal purposes.

Denial of Service Attack (DOS)

A Denial of Service Attack or DOS Attack is a type of online computer attack designed to deprive user or groups of users normally accessible online services. In a DOS attacks hackers try to temporarily or indefinitely interrupt or suspend services of a host connected to the Internet.


A rootkit is a type of malware that opens a permanent "back door" into a computer system; once installed, a rootkit will allow more and more viruses to infect a computer as various hackers find the vulnerability and attack the exposed computer.


Spyware is a type of malware that quietly sends information about a user’s browsing and computing habits back to a server that gathers and saves the data. Spyware can collect information on Internet surfing habits, user logins and passwords, bank or credit account information, and other data entered into a computer. Spyware is often difficult to remove, it can also change a computers configuration resulting in slow Internet connection speeds, a surge in pop-up advertisements, and unauthorized changes in browser settings or functionality of other software.


A trojan is a type of malware that gives an unauthorized user access to a computer.


A virus is a type of malware that has a reproductive capacity and the ability to transfer itself from one computer to another spreading infections between online devices.


A worm is a type of malware that replicates itself over and over within a computer.

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Respond to the Threat

These cyber-attacks effect your ability to get your projects done. They result in computer downtime and increased frustration.

Report strange or slow computer issues to the HelpDesk at help@nsuok.edu or extension 5678 - Because Action Matters.

Symptoms of a Compromised Computer

A computer may have been compromised if it is:

  • slow or non-responsive
  • experiencing unexpected behavior such as programs popping up
  • showing signs of high level of activity to the hard drive that is not the result of anything you initiated
  • displaying messages on your screen that you haven't seen before
  • running out of disk space unexpectedly
  • unable to run a program because it doesn't have enough memory - and this hasn't happened before
  • constantly crashing
  • automatically communicating with external computers that you did not initiate
  • receiving bounced-back emails

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What Can You Do? Be Proactive...

What You Can Do

You can be a large part of the solution by knowing what to look for and avoid

Don't click on suspicious URLS or emails. When in doubt, delete.

Be careful using public, unsecured WiFi. Don't bank, shop, or enter personal information on unsecured networks.

Know the protection and privacy features of your devices, websites, and apps.

Plug & scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.

Protect Your Personal Information.

Links in email, tweets, posts, and online advertising are often the way cyber criminals compromise your computer. If it looks suspicious, even if you know the source, it is best to mark the message as spam or delete it.

Keep your operating system, browser, and other critical software optimized by installing updates.

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