This malware sounds scary – how does it infect my device in the first place?
s computers went mainstream, and households connected to the web in droves, malware seized the opportunity to go mainstream. Unshackled from the floppy disk, and with millions of potential victims to infect, it suddenly became a viable means of causing mass destruction or perpetrating crimes that could net huge sums of money.
So how does this malware get on your system?
Unfortunately, there are a great many ways in which that can happen. To list them all here would be well beyond the scope of this article but, to give you an idea, here are some of the more common ways in which it sneaks onto your system:
- By not using antivirus software – With the sheer volume of malware on the web these days the chances of avoiding it all are slim. While security professionals and other tech-save users may be able to get away with not using antivirus software, the majority of people can not. So, if you don’t already have an AV program installed, do yourself a favor and download one now.
- By not having a firewall installed – If you connect your computer to any kind of network but don’t have a firewall in place then you are effectively leaving all your doors and windows open. Finding a firewall is easy – they come bundled with internet security suites, are occasionally included with antivirus programs and are bundled free with many versions of Windows.
- Via unpatched operating systems – With Windows 10, Microsoft has begun rolling out operating system updates automatically but earlier versions of Windows still need a certain level of user involvement to ensure that the latest security threats are patched out as quickly as possible. If you do not install updates quickly after they become available, you are giving malware a chance to enter your system.
- Through other unpatched programs – Malware doesn’t just take advantage of unpatched operating systems – it can leverage flaws in other programs too. If any file or application on your computer says it needs updating pay attention.
That is especially true for programs from the likes of Adobe and Java which remain a top target for hackers and other cybercriminals.
- By opening email attachments – If you’ve received an email from an unknown source then you should be incredibly wary about opening any attachments in the message. Hiding viruses and other threats in attached files is an old but still highly successful tactic for malware authors.
- Clicking on popups that claim your computer is infected – This is another old scam that continues to be successful for those behind it. By claiming your computer is infected, the person behind the ruse will attempt to con you into buying an ineffective solution or, worse, will offer you an antivirus scanner that itself is malware.
- By clicking links in emails – If you receive an email containing a link to a website be sure you know what you are about to click on – some websites are designed to infect your computer as soon as you visit them. Not only that, some links to ‘banks’ and other services where you need to log in are designed to steal your login credentials so beware of that threat too.
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