For our February Explore Programme we heard from a number of STEMazing cybersecurity professionals on how we can keep ourselves, and those around us, safe online. For this session, we heard from Cyber Expert Oge Udensi and Holly Walker.

When you are beginning to learn about Cybersecurity, it can feel like learning a totally new language. All of the different terms and words with double meaning (worms, anyone?) can get ahead of us. So, here, we will break down these terms to make them easier to remember.

Before We Start, What Is Malware?

Malware is short for malicious software. This means it is a code that makes its way into a system to cause harm. Malware can be used to steal data, bypass access controls or cause harm to a system.

Common Cybersecurity Terminology

  • Spyware. This is when malware gets into your computer and causes your system to slow down. By doing this, you are forced to restart your system. From here, the hacker can get access to your passwords and other data by seeing you put it in (using a keystroke monitor).
  • Adware. This is a type of malware that automatically delivers advertisements to your system. You would never knowingly instal adware, but it can often be installed in some versions of trusted software.
  • Bots. The word ‘bot’ comes from the word robot, because of its ability to automatically perform actions. For example, a common use of bots is to instantly buy tickets for highly sought-after events or products, etc.
  • Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that involves you paying a certain amount of money (a ransom) before you can get access back into your whole system, or a certain part of your system that the hacker had locked up with code.
  • Scareware. Scareware is a type of malware that tries to get a user to complete a specific action based on fear. The fear comes from pop-ups conveying forged messages.
  • Virus. A virus is a piece of malicious code that is attached to other executable files which are often legitimate programs. Most viruses require end-user activation (meaning they need you to click on something).
  • Worms. A malicious code that replicates itself until it has taken over the whole host and once infected it spreads very quickly.

A massive thank you to Oge Udensi and Holly Walker for sitting down with us on the Academy stream of Explore to run through this terminology with us.

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