iGCSE Computer Science - Distance Learning

Tutor Marked Assignment 6
Tutor Marked Assignment 8 (Programming)

Threats To Data

Data can be put at risk through a number of different ways. When we consider the protection of data, often we think about malicious attacks on our computers and networks which put our data at risk. The most common risk of losing data is actually human error , whether this is through not updating our protection software or not following security rules that help to keep our data safe.

Accidental Deletion

floppy disk

One of the most common forms of data loss is accidental deletion. Data can be deleted by accident by clicking the wrong icon, or by formatting a disc in error or simply forgetting to save. Accidental deletion is common in all forms of system and whilst user training helps to reduce it, humans are prone to error and therefore it will never be completely removed as a risk.

Physical Loss

data loss

Physical loss of data can occur in several ways. Physical loss may happen if a drive or mobile device is lost or stolen. For businesses, physical loss is more likely to occur when the theft of devices happens. It is for this reason that in many businesses the server room will be locked and only accessible to those with authorisation. Locking offices and having passcodes on doors so that only authorised people can get into the building is one of the most basic forms of protecting our data even though we often don’t think about this as a method of protection.

Another form of physical loss is damage due to fire and flood. When a building is damaged by natural disaster, the machines on which the data is saved may be damaged causing data loss. It is for this reason that it is recommended to store a copy of files in another location as although we can reduce the risk from natural disasters, we cannot prevent this entirely.

Malicious Software

The term used to cover all types of malicious software is Malware (this is simply a shortened combination of the two words).

Malware can be used to describe software that arrives on our devices that is simply annoying, to destructive software that can harm our machine and go on to harm others, sometimes without us knowing.


malware virus

A virus is a type of malware that reacts in a similar way to a human virus. The purpose of a virus is to cause disruption, and often damage to the device. Once the device has contracted the virus, the software replicates itself and tries to pass that replica onto another device.

In order to infect the device, a virus requires a human to perform an action that allows the virus software to open, such as opening an email attachment, or opening downloaded software that contains the virus. 


A worm is similar to a virus but is a little more concerning as it does not need human interaction to spread. Simply being connected to a device that has a worm allows it to spread.


trojan horse

Trojan malware is the sneakiest of the malware as it hides inside a seemingly harmless piece of software. This is often a free download that acts as a gift. In fact, this is where the name comes from – The Greek Myth of The Trojan Horse had a gift that was actually full of a rather nasty surprise!


Spyware is not harmful to your device in the same way as a virus, but instead, puts you at risk by detecting your personal data and sending this onto the creator. Examples of spyware are keyloggers, browser hijackers, or corporate spyware.

Revision Activity

Download and complete the visual notes document below. Don’t forget to add colour to the keywords and add your own notes to the areas provided.