Worms, Trojans & Bots – Understanding Different Hacker Threats

Sophie Anderson Sophie Anderson Worms, Trojans & Bots – Understanding Different Hacker Threats

Hackers use countless tactics to steal your social security number, bank accounts, credit card numbers, usernames, passwords, or other data. So how will knowing the lingo help you avoid getting hacked? Hackers are constantly coming up with new ways to bypass security measures. If you familiarize yourself with hacking terminology, it can help you recognize a virus or malware threat in the news.

A complete list of hacking terms would be impossible to provide. Here is a list of some of the more common terms and types of attacks:

  • Virus –malicious code hidden in a program and designed to infect a computer, corrupt files, or stop your computer from operating. Viruses can replicate and spread to other computers in the same network.
  • Malware – Program designed to harm your computer system, mobile device or network. There are different types of malware, all with a different function.
    • Ransomware – encrypts files, preventing access until users make a ransom payment
    • Spyware – tracks your internet activity to obtain personal information
    • Keylogging – tracks and records keystrokes to access sensitive data such as credit card numbers, passwords, and login information
    • Trojan Horse – disguised as useful software, enabling unlimited access to compute
    • Worm – malicious software replicating itself on other systems in the same network
    • Zombie – remotely controls computer
    • Adware – unwanted ads automatically downloaded to your computer
  • Phishing –using fake emails, text messages, and websites which appear to be from a legitimate source but obtain personal information
  • Spoofing program pretending to be from a trusted source, can use email, IP addresses, and address bars
  • Backdoorcircumventing computer security or encryption, enabling viruses or malware to enter
  • Bots – short for robots, automated programs designed to complete repetitive tasks
  • Malware bots – bots launching harmful attacks on computer systems and networks

How Do You Protect Your Computer from Hackers?

Now that you know the lingo, here are some strategies to prevent hackers from stealing your vital data:

  • Ensure your computer is running the most recent versions of your operating system and web browser.
  • Install a licensed antivirus software, keep virus definitions, engines, and software up-to-date, and schedule regular, automatic scans.
  • Avoid downloading software from untrusted sources.
  • Never open email attachments unless you know who sent them.
  • Use long passwords – 20 characters or more with a mix of letters and numbers – and update the passwords every six months.
  • Remove sensitive data (SSNs, credit card information, student records, health information, etc.) from your devices and computers.

Don’t Forget Your Phone

While hacking is generally associated with Windows computers, the Android operating system is a popular target for hackers who use many of the above attacks to view your stored data on the phone, including identity and financial information. In addition, hackers can use malware to track your location, text premium websites, or spread a virus to your contact list.


Hackers are working hard to find a way to infiltrate computers, websites, and networks focused on causing mayhem and hoping to benefit from any data they find. In order to protect yourself, it’s important to understand the tactics and methods hackers use. While you won’t become a cybersecurity expert with this list, you will become more familiar with the terms commonly associated with hackers. This knowledge will help you understand what type of antivirus software you need and, hopefully, prevent you from becoming a hacker’s next victim.

For a more complete list of antivirus terms, see our Complete Security and Antivirus Glossary of Terms.

About the Author

Sophie Anderson
Sophie Anderson
Cybersecurity researcher and tech journalist

About the Author

Sophie Anderson has spent the last 10 years working as a software engineer for some of the biggest tech companies in Silicon Valley. She now works as a cybersecurity consultant and tech journalist, helping everyday netizens understand how to stay safe and protected in an online world.