Just what are those ‘security risks’ you’re always hearing about and being warned of? Worms, trojans, spyware etc. it all doesn’t mean much when you don’t really know what they are.

We explain all the dangers here, and outline the impact to business of one of these risks becoming a reality. We also explain how we protect you against these risks, so there’s no need to worry.

This is a continuation of part 1, which can be found here.

Spyware and Adware

Spyware is software that installs itself on your machine without you knowing about it. It can monitor your activity or interfere with it.

Spyware could potentially collect information about what websites you visit, your credit card details, usernames and passwords.

Spyware can also change computer settings, resulting in unstable performance, hijack web-browsers, redirect your internet traffic and change your home page.

The potential danger level is therefore very high and could result in financial losses, loss of productivity and theft of sensitive business or client data.

Adware is different to spyware, in that its purpose is not to steal information, monitor or interfere with your activity, but to display unwanted ads to you. These ads can pop up on your desktop, in browser windows, even in the search results on search engines like Google and Bing – in addition to the ads that usually display. Some types of adware are also spyware, and therefore are a threat to your privacy and security.

How Netstar clients are protected: Clients with managed anti-virus plans will be protected against spyware and adware as all incoming traffic is scanned for malicious software. The anti-virus solution is more up to date than other solutions and will recognise the latest threats, as the database of threats is updated continuously in a cloud platform rather than needing to be updated on a user’s local machine.


A botnet is a network of computers, which can include your own office or home PC, that are used to run automated tasks over the internet.

The term botnet usually refers to a collection of compromised computers, varying in location and type.

Therefore, the processing power of your PC could be used by the botnet to carry out or contribute to tasks without your consent.

Botnets are often used to carry out Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDos) – where a webserver is repeatedly and frequently “pinged” from a large number of different locations in order to overwhelm it and bring it down. They can also be used to run malicious software.

Botnets are a detriment to productivity as they steal computing resources from the compromised machines. More serious consequences can occur from the programs that run on botnets. If your PC is part of a botnet, your computer is at the control of somebody else and could end up having anything installed on it – including malicious software that monitors your behaviour and steals data.

How Netstar clients are protected: Our managed firewall, DNS monitoring and anti-virus solutions are robust and will prevent your devices from being compromised and taken control of. Our proactive maintenance and monitoring would also catch any unusual behaviour on machines, such as resources being used by unknown programs.


A computer worm is a self replicating malicious software program. It can spread without attaching itself to an existing program or requiring user intervention. Due to these characteristics it can send itself to other computers on the same network and compromise them, regardless of their level of protection.

Because worms replicate themselves on a network, they use bandwidth, which slows down performance on the network and affects productivity. Once a worm is installed, it can create backdoors that allow a hacker to control the infected computer – making it part of a botnet.

How Netstar clients are protected: Worms spread by exploiting vulnerabilities in operating systems. They can therefore be prevented by keeping all systems up to date. Our proactive maintenance takes care of this in the background, updating all systems and applications, installing patches and fixes without disrupting you. Managed firewalls, email security and DNS monitoring also provide further protection.


Named after the trojan horse that concealed a deadly Greek army which was wheeled into the city of Troy. In computer terms, Trojan Horses are pieces of software that conceal a malicious ‘payload’ whilst appearing to perform a legitimate action.

The danger to your business: Trojans may install ‘backdoor programs’ which would enable hackers entry into your systems. They could potentially erase data, corrupt files, install other malicious programs that impact productivity or capture sensitive information, add the computer to a Botnet, harvest email addresses and use them for spam, or interfere with security features like anti-virus and firewalls.

How Netstar clients are protected: Our managed antivirus solution will recognise the latest trojan software. Our DNS monitoring solution won’t even allow it to reach your network. If you were to introduce software via another means, i.e. a USB drive, our cloud based anti-virus would recognise it due to the database which is constantly updated in real time. The software would be blocked from running and installing itself.

Denial of Service Attack

A denial of service attack (DoS) is an attempt to make a computer resource such as a website or web service unavailable to users. This may be a risk to you if you have a high profile service, such as a website that lots of people use online. Government institutions are targets, as are large businesses (Paypal and Mastercard have been hit in the past).

A DoS attack works by overwhelming a web server with many requests, usually by utilising computers that have been made part of a Botnet. The server cannot handle the overwhelming number of requests and either crashes, or responds so slowly as to be effectively unavailable.

Danger to your business: If you have a high profile, highly visited website, you may be a target. The business ramifications can be manifold – such as loss of revenue through the website, damage to reputation due to publicity of the attack and complaints about unavailability of services, loss of productivity if staff need to access the website and responding to a flood of customer enquiries. Email services may also become unavailable.

How Netstar clients are protected: We use state of the art firewall hardware to deny IP addresses that make repeated requests above a certain number per second. When this happens, it is classified as a DoS attack and the IP address(es) blocked. We can then block all inbound traffic except from IP addresses that have been established previously and are trusted. Outbound traffic from your network can still function as normal.