In this course we will discuss a huge problem on the Internet: The spread of malware.
The number of cyber attacks has increased again in 2020. New forms of malware have evolved, even more disruptive and more damaging.
We will cover different types of malware, such as, viruses, worms, and trojans, talk about botnets and ransomware, and mention some countermeasures.

Self-paced since February 24, 2021
Language: English
Advanced, Beginner, Cybersecurity, Internet

Course information

In this course, Prof. Meinel and the teaching team aim to raise awareness for malware cyber threats. Botnets, worms, trojans, and spyware are the most common types of malware. But with every newly discovered malware, there is already a new, more sophisticated one on the market. Antivirus programs lag behind the rapid development of new malware.

Participants get to know the most common types of malware. They learn how they work and which effects they can have on your personal data. Prominent examples will show how cyber attacks can harm not only your personal data but also whole businesses. After knowing about the risks, we want to discuss with you how to avoid such an attack. Which protective measures can be implemented quickly? We should not forget: Many leaks are caused by the human factor.

Join our online learning community!

Take the cybersec exam and get a qualified certificate!

This course content is part of the cybersecurity series on openHPI. The series consists of three courses and ends with the Cybersecurity exam. By the Cybersecurity exam, you have the chance to receive a free record of achievement or a qualified certificate. Therefore, please attend the three courses Confidential Communication in the Internet, Digital Identities, and Cyberthreats: Malware and finish them with a confirmation of participation. This allows you to register for the cybersecurity exam which covers questions from all three courses. The Cybersecurity exam will be offered again in the future.


  • Introduction into the Internet as Attack-Target
  • General Differentiation and Introduction into Malware
  • "Reasons" for Malware
    • Technical Failures
    • Human Failures
  • Different Kinds of Malware
    • How does a malware spread? Virus, Worm, Trojan
    • Different kinds of Malware: Ransomware, Keylogger, Scareware
    • Prominent Examples of Malware: Emotet, Caberp
  • Protective Measures against Malware

Required skills:

  • General IT knowledge

Course level:

  • Basics

Target group:

  • Everyone who uses the internet a lot and is potentially vulnerable against attacks by malware.

Enroll me for this course

The course is free. Just register for an account on openHPI and take the course!
Enroll me now


Course End
Feb 24, 2021
Course Start
Feb 10, 2021


This course was rated with 4.55 stars in average from 44 votes.

Certificate Requirements

  • Gain a Record of Achievement by earning at least 50% of the maximum number of points from all graded assignments.
  • Gain a Confirmation of Participation by completing at least 80% of the course material.

Find out more in the certificate guidelines.

This course is offered by

Prof. Dr. Christoph Meinel

Christoph Meinel (Univ. Prof., Dr. sc. nat., Dr. rer. nat., *1954) is CEO and Director of the Hasso Plattner Institute for Digital Engineering gGmbH (HPI) at the University of Potsdam.

Christoph Meinel is full professor (C4) for computer science at the HPI at the University of Potsdam, and holds there the chair of Internet Technologies and Systems. He was the founding dean of the first private faculty of Germany, the Digital Engineering faculty of the university of Potsdam.

He teaches courses on IT Systems Engineering in the Bachelor and Master Degree programs on digital engineering of the HPI and on design thinking at the HPI D-School. He is the author of various interactive online courses at the MOOC platform which was and is developed and operated by his team. His research focus is currently on knowledge and educational technologies, security engineering, and AI. He is also active in innovation research and design thinking. Earlier scientific work concentrated on efficient algorithms and complexity theory.

Christoph Meinel is author or co-author of 19 books, many anthologies, as well as numerous conference proceedings. He has more than 700 (peer-reviewed) papers published in scientific journals and international conferences, and holds a number of international patents. He has supervised and supervises many master and doctoral students, more than 70 have already successfully defended their doctoral theses.
He is a member of the National German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech), director of the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program, member of the board of governors of the Technion in Haifa, visiting professor among others at the TU Beijing, and member of numerous scientific committees and supervisory boards. Together with Larry Leifer he was program director of the HPI Stanford Design Thinking Program and serious editor of the Springer serious “Understanding Innovation”. Since 2012 Christoph Meinel has developed the MOOC platform openHPI which is meanwhile used by various partners (SAP, WHO, KI-Campus, …) and counts more than 15 Mio. learner enrollments. In the years 2016-2021 he has developed the HPI Schul-Cloud which meanwhile is used in more than 4.000 schools all over Germany. For many years he offers the HPI ID Leak Checker service which is frequently used by 16 Mio. users. He was the founder of the scientific journal ECCC and in the years 1994-2016 its editor-in-chief.