The Top 10 Culprits Causing Malware Infections
Total Characters : 10020 - Format : HTML
I think it is safe to assume that the places you visit on the Internet will
determine which programs are installed on your PC. Let me put it this way, the
software installed on your computer will have some relevance to the sites you
often visit. Lets take a few examples, when you are using Gmail, chances are
good that you will have Gmail Notifier or GoogleTalk installed on your PC. When
you often visit Yahoo.com or take part in their social networks, chances are
good that you will have Yahoo! Toolbar or Yahoo! Messenger installed on your PC.
Lets take a more practical example, users visiting Microsoft.com most probably
have packages like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows XP installed on their
computers. It is likely for supporters of the Open Source Initiative to hang out
on sites like OpenSource.org, OpenOffice.com, Linux.org or SpreadFirefox.com. So
your software preferences play a huge role in the type of web sites you visit
and vice versa.
But what has this to do with malware infections? To be honest, everything!
Let me show you what the top culprits of malware infections are and it will soon
be clear to you what the connection is between the web sites you visit and the
malware found on your PC.
Top culprit number 1: Pornographic web sites
Download Spyware Blaster by JavaCool Software and have a look at all the porn
related web sites blocked by this program. It is also remarkable to see how many
computers with traces of pornographic web sites in their browser history, are
often infected with spyware and trojan horses. Unfortunately you will have
innocent victims of malware infections, also with traces of pornographic web
sites in their browser history, but only because the malware redirected them to
these sites. However, people with pornographic material on their computers are
not that innocent in this case, pornography does not go out looking for people,
people go out looking for pornography.
Top culprit number 2: Illegal music (MP3) and movie downloading sites
These sites normally force you to install special downloading software on your
computer so that you can download files from them. These download managers are
often bundled with spyware and are trojan horses themselves, downloading tons of
other spyware programs while you cheerfully download your illegal MP3s. They
sometimes place tracking cookies on your PC to monitor your browsing habits and
hijack your browser to make sure you return to their site or a site of a partner.
Top culprit number 3: Software Piracy web sites
If you love using illegal software, cracks, serial numbers or license key
generators (keygens) then you most probably had to remove some malware
infections in the past after visiting one of these sites. Most of the people
using these cracks are normally technical wizards and know how to disinfect
their computers. Many of these sites do not only contain harmful scripts but
also fake cracks and key generators, which are nothing else but malware. Some
crack developers create a working crack but distribute it with spyware or a
trojan horse to make your PC their slave.
Top culprit number 4: Peer-to-peer file sharing programs and networks
The file sharing community is loaded with pornography, pirated software, music
and movies. Is it not amazing that everywhere these guys make their appearance
you also find spyware, viruses, trojan horses and all kinds of malware? The
client software is also often bundled with spyware (or adware as they call it).
The culprits discussed so far are those connected with illegal and indecent
activities. People visiting these sites and using these services deserve getting
infected with malware. These culprits are also some of the biggest sources of
malware epidemics. What flows from the mouth, comes from within the heart. The
same rule applies to your computer, those nasty little programs crawling inside
your computer is, in the case of culprits 1 to 4, the direct result of your own
sinful actions and activities.
The next couple of culprits are caused by negligence and a lack of knowledge
about how malware are distributed.
Top culprit number 5: Pop-up and pop-under advertisements
Another culprit that wants to caught you off guard. A pop-up window may appear
out of the blue or a concealed pop-under window my load in the background
without you even knowing it. These windows can start downloading malicious
programs and install them on your computer. They can appear on any web site, not
just illegal and other bad web sites. You can prevent these windows from opening
by using a secure browser like Firefox with a built-in pop-up blocker.
Top culprit number 6: Fake anti-virus and anti-spyware tools
You visit a legitimate looking web site and suddenly a banner appears telling
you that your computer is infected with spyware. You can scan your computer with
all the anti-spyware software in the world, over and over again until you are
blue in the face, but that banner will keep telling you that your computer is
infected with spyware. This is because it is a plain image banner. The site
never does a scan of your computer, it is a fixed message that will display on
any computer, no matter how clean it is. Simply put, it is a blatant lie! They
want you to believe that your computer is infected and that only their software
can remove this spyware. If you download and install their software you will
only find that it is spyware itself. You may end up infecting a completely clean
system with a dirty program, trying to remove the so-called spyware.
A system scan is not a three second process, it takes time, so no scanner can
tell you instantaneously that your system is infected with spyware. I do not
believe in online scanners, rather use software with a good reputation, a local
scan is much more faster. Most online scanners are no online scanners at all,
you actually download the whole scanning engine and end up doing a local scan
anyway. A real scanner will tell you the name of the malware and its location on
your hard drive, if it does not give you this information, then it is fake. Even
if it gives you this information, it still does not mean that the software is
legitimate. Do not trust everything you see online and stick to well known anti-malware
Top culprit number 7: Free games, screen savers, media players, etc.
No, not every free program comes bundled with spyware, but spyware (once again
the developers prefer to call it adware, but it is still the same thing) is
often the price you have to pay for the free software. It is normally a ploy to
monitor your use of the program, to send the creators statistical data or to
collect data about your online behaviour in order to send you targeted ads. If
you try to remove the spyware you normally render the main application useless.
Read the EULA (End User Licence Agreement) very carefully before installing the
application. But everyone knows that nobody reads those tedious, long licence
agreements, so use EULAlyzer by JavaCool Software to check for specific keywords
and phrases that might reveal any spyware programs being installed or privacy
breaching practices that may occur if you install the free software.
Top culprit number 8: Malicious web pages with harmful scripts
But you already mentioned this one in culprits 1 to 3. No, culprits 1 to 3 often
have harmless web sites and it is the content you download from the sites that
is harmful. But you also get web pages containing malicious scripts, totally
innocent looking web sites, like a site donating money for cancer. You go to
their homepage and suddenly a script virus strikes your computer. This is what
an anti-virus shield was made for, that unexpected attack. Firefox is also
designed to prevent harmful scripts and browser hijackers from accessing the
system and taking advantage of flaws and weak spots in your operating system.
Top culprit number 9: E-mail
Virus worms spread themselves by forwarding a copy of the virus to all the
contacts in your address book. Those contacts that are unaware of these worms
will most likely open the e-mail and the file attached to it. But when you open
a strange infected e-mail from an unknown sender, then you are guilty of double
negligence. For the virus to be activated you need to open the e-mail and in
most cases you need to deliberately open the file attachment too. By using a
little common sense you will know that strange e-mails from unknown senders are
dangerous, especially when they have executable attachments with file names
ending with the exe, com, bat or scr extensions. Even
dangerous e-mails from known, trustworthy contacts can easily be identified if
the contents of the e-mail seems strange and out of character. By being careful
and responsible when opening your e-mails, you will not only prevent your own
computer from getting infected, but you will also prevent the worm from
spreading any further.
Top culprit number 10: You the Internet user
What? Me? How on earth can I be a culprit? Well, you are an accomplice in the
spread of malware if you do not have an active and updated anti-virus package
installed on your computer, if you do not scan your computer for viruses and
spyware on a regular basis, if you do not use shields like the TeaTimer tool
from SpyBot (which is free by the way), the Ad-Watch shield of Ad-Aware or the
resident shield of AVG Anti-spyware (all of which you have to pay for,
unfortunately), if you spend your time browsing pornographic and illegal web
sites and take part in the sharing of pirated software and copyrighted material
(culprits 1 to 4), if you fail to be responsible with the software you install
on your PC and the e-mails you open (culprits 6, 7 and 9) and if you refuse to
use a secure web browser (like Firefox) built to prevent malware infections (culprits
5 and 8). Yes, I will go so far to say, that if you stay away from culprits 1 to
7 and 9, you probably wont need any virus and spyware protection at all.
Culprit 8 is the only reason why you should have anti-virus and anti-spyware
protection, for those unexpected attacks, over which you have no control.
Culprits 1 to 8 are the main sources of malware. Infections caused by them
led to the creation of culprits 9 and 10, which distribute the malware even
further. Do not turn your computer into a malware paradise or a malware
distribution centre. Take responsibility, protect your computer against these
threats and prevent the spread of malware.