Where malware comes from, and how can you stop it?

In 2015 the number of Internet users reached 3.2 billion people. This is 43% of the population. It should be noted that in a relatively short period, from 2000 to 2015, this number has increased almost sevenfold, from 6.5%.

In the nineties, an Internet was a tool for business and communication for limited groups of people, and now it provides all possible services, a wide range of information for business and pleasure. This means that an increasing number of users have no idea of the dangers and risks lurking on the Internet. Most of these users are older people who are not accustomed to the specifics of Internet communication and the abundance of scams. They just take for granted everything they see on the websites.

Also, with the invention of more accessible user interfaces, internet becomes used by children from an early age. These users have mastered Internet at such level, where they can actively use it, download files and surf the net, but not being able to distinguish the malicious site from reliable and valid file from the infected. Here's a graph, that clearly shows, that the number of dangerous websites grows very fast:

I'm sure each of you has a friend who is actively using a computer and the Internet, and thus do not care about security. His computer is running as if it has rusted through, or it contains all the videos from YouTube. Loading takes a few minutes, and during the launch of the browser you can walk the dog. But he is certain that it is in the nature of things, and the computer just deteriorated over time. This user may even install an anti-virus software on his PC, but does not use it, believing that if the software is installed - the computer is 100% protected from any virus. This article focuses on such users. It contains a description of all the possible methods of viral infection, possible sources of contamination, and the necessary precautions.

What are the sources of most of the threats?

Let's start with the general concepts. First, do not trust all the information that you see on the internet. Internet site, blog, and even the page on the social network can be set up in a few minutes, and only the creator of such page can choose, what to place on it. This may be the useful article or the diary, but also it can be a phony scheme of earnings on the Internet, advertising or malware. To protect yourself from fraud of basic level, you need to follow a simple rule: if you are advised to buy anything, visit a suspicious site, or download an unknown file - just ignore it. Unfortunately, these types of scams are gradually eroding, and they are replaced by more insidious schemes.

One such method is the “doorways”. According to Wikipedia, “doorways” are the kind of search engine spam, the web pages specially optimized for one or more search queries for the purpose of getting it to the top places in the results of these inquiries and further redirect visitors to another site or page. In fact, doorways are working on a simple scheme. The developer selects a current topic that is on everyone's lips, such a prominent event in the world of show business or politics, and creates websites optimized for that event. A user wants to know the latest news and stumbles upon the site from which it is redirected to another similar site, and so on. Some sites are set up so, that clicking on any element of the website initiates the download of malware, that is disguised as an update for some useful program. Most often, fraudsters refer to Adobe flash player, and occasionally - on the ActiveX or one of the known web browsers. Another similar way - is a "sudden" discovery of the virus on the computer. When viewing the site, there pops up a window with a very scary message: “There’s a malware on your PC, immediately download our antivirus, it is your last chance!” Of course, I exaggerate. The message may look pretty solid, but the essence is always the same. Remember that every time, when another user agrees to install such "anti-virus", a web-scammer somewhere happily laughs, and rubs his sweaty little hands! But don't worry, it's very easy to recognize the website infected by malware. The most notable sign is a large number of pop-up windows, which redirect you to another websites. That's how it looks like:

 

 

Another way of infection, which was very popular a few years ago is the infection through email. Now, when emails concede most of their roles to social networks, this method is not so common, but still there are people who suffer from it. This method is very simple: scammers are sending a letter with attached viruses to random addresses. Tempting headers lull the vigilance of the user, and he opens the letter, incidentally installing the malware. There’s only one way to defend your PC from such attack: do not open emails from unknown senders. No matter what the title says, just do not open the letter and put it in the trash can.

 

The last item on my list is considered to be the most dangerous method of virus infection. This is the method of attachments. It is very widely spread, and even some large companies do not disdain from it. The method consists in attaching malicious or unwanted file to the useful utility. For example, a user wants to download some software, and in addition gets three browsers, media player and an incredible tool to "find the best deals on the Internet". How does this happen? Here's some pictures of common malware installation windows:

 

 

 

Scammers use several human weaknesses: laziness, carelessness and credulity. The user is too lazy to read everything that is written in multiple windows that arise when you install any software (do not bring about the licensing agreements, I do not read them too). In addition, the user does not pay attention to the fact that somebody offers him to install additional software, and that the window had exposed his consent. This method will be relevant for a very long time, because the viruses are most often attached to free programs or to hacked copies of licensed software. The desire to get something for nothing is ineradicable, and scammers know this perfectly well. Here are the two advices, which will help you to avoid such a threat. Firstly, minimize the number of downloads of free software, created by unknown developers. If the program is effective, then it surely has an official site where it can be securely downloaded. Secondly – be attentive, while installing any software. You will be able to notice any disturbance in the process, and protect yourself from unwanted software.

 

That was a short description of all the popular schemes used by fraudsters to infiltrate users' computers. They all are built in such way that the user himself does most of the work. The scammers just give you an opportunity to clog your computer, and all further actions you perform on your own. So, be vigilant, listen to wise advices and may cyber security be with you!

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