Top 10 culprits behind malware infections
I think it’s safe to assume that the places you visit on the Internet will determine what 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 visit frequently. Let’s take some examples, when you use Gmail, it is highly likely that you have Gmail Notifier or GoogleTalk installed on your PC. When you often visit Yahoo.com or participate in your social networks, chances are you have Yahoo! Toolbar or Yahoo! Messenger installed on your PC. Let’s take a more practical example, users who visit Microsoft.com probably have packages like Microsoft Office and Microsoft Windows XP installed on their computers. Supporters of the Open Source Initiative are likely to hang out on sites like OpenSource.org, OpenOffice.com, Linux.org, or SpreadFirefox.com. Therefore, your software preferences play a huge role in the type of websites you visit and vice versa.
But what does this have to do with malware infections? To be honest, everything! Let me show you what the main culprits behind malware infections are and it will soon become clear to you what the connection is between the websites you visit and the malware found on your PC.
Main culprit number 1: pornographic websites
Download Spyware Blaster from JavaCool Software and take a look at all the porn related websites blocked by this program. It is also remarkable to see how many computers with traces of pornographic websites in their browsing history are often infected with spyware and Trojans. Unfortunately, you will have innocent victims of malware infections, also with traces of pornographic websites in their browser history, but only because the malware redirected them to these sites. However, people who have pornographic material on their computers are not so innocent in this case, pornography does not go out looking for people, people go out looking for pornography.
Main culprit number 2: illegal music (MP3) and movie download sites
These sites usually force you to install special download software on your computer so that you can download files from them. These download managers are often bundled with spyware and are Trojans themselves, downloading tons of other spyware while you gleefully download your illegal MP3s. Sometimes they 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 partner’s site.
Main culprit number 3: software piracy websites
If you love using illegal software, cracks, serial numbers, or keygens, chances are you’ve had to remove some malware infections in the past after visiting one of these sites. Most of the people who use these cracks are usually technical wizards and know how to disinfect their computers. Many of these sites contain not only harmful scripts, but also fake crackers and key generators, which are nothing more than malware. Some crack developers create a working crack, but distribute it with spyware or a Trojan horse to make your PC their slave.
Main culprit number 4: networks and peer-to-peer file sharing programs
The file-sharing community is overflowing with pornography, pirated software, music, and movies. Isn’t it surprising that everywhere these guys appear you also find spyware, viruses, Trojan horses and all kinds of malware? Client software also often includes spyware (or adware, as they call it).
The culprits discussed so far are those related to illegal and indecent activities. People who visit these sites and use these services deserve to be infected with malware. These culprits are also some of the biggest sources of malware outbreaks. What comes out of the mouth, comes out of the heart. The same rule applies to your computer, those nasty little programs that creep inside your computer are, in the case of culprits 1 to 4, the direct result of your own sinful actions and activities.
The following two culprits are caused by negligence and lack of knowledge about how malware is distributed.
Main culprit number 5: pop-up and pop-up ads
Another culprit who wants to catch you off guard. A popup can appear out of nowhere or a hidden popup can load in the background without you knowing. These windows can start downloading malicious programs and installing them on your computer. They can appear on any website, not just illegal websites and other bad websites. You can prevent these windows from opening by using a secure browser like Firefox with a built-in pop-up blocker.
Main culprit number 6: fake antivirus and antispyware tools
You visit a website that looks legitimate, and suddenly an ad appears telling you that your computer is infected with spyware. He can scan his computer with all the anti-spyware software in the world, over and over until he turns blue in the face, but that banner will still tell him that his computer is infected with spyware. This is because it is a simple image banner. The site never scans your computer, it’s a sticky message that will show up on any computer, no matter how clean it is. Simply put, it’s 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 so-called spyware.
A system scan is not a three second process, it takes time, so no scanner can instantly tell you that your system is infected with spyware. I don’t believe in online scanners, rather I use reputable software, a local scan is much faster. Most online scanners are not online scanners at all, you actually download the entire scan 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 you provide this information, it does not mean that the software is legitimate. Don’t trust everything you see online and stick with well-known brands of anti-malware.
Main culprit number 7: free games, screen savers, media players, etc.
No, not all free programs come with spyware, but spyware (again, developers prefer to call it adware, but it’s still the same thing) is often the price you pay for freeware. It is usually a ploy to monitor your use of the program, send statistical data to creators, or collect data about your online behavior in order to send you targeted advertisements. If you try to remove spyware, it will usually make the main application unusable. Please read the EULA (End User License Agreement) very carefully before installing the application. But everyone knows that no one reads those lengthy tedious license agreements, so use JavaCool Software’s EULAlyzer to look for specific keywords and phrases that might reveal spyware installations or privacy practices that might occur if install the freeware.
Main culprit number 8: malicious web pages with harmful scripts
But you already mentioned this in culprits 1-3. No, culprits 1-3 often have harmless websites and it’s the content you download from the sites that is harmful. But you also get web pages that contain malicious scripts, websites that look totally innocent, like a site that donates money for cancer. You go to their home page and suddenly a script virus attacks your computer. For that an antivirus shield was made, for that unexpected attack. Firefox is also designed to prevent harmful scripts and browser hijackers from accessing your system and taking advantage of your operating system’s flaws and weaknesses.
Main culprit number 9: email
Virus worms spread by forwarding a copy of the virus to everyone in your address book. Contacts unaware of these worms will likely open the email and the attached file. But when you open a strange infected email from an unknown sender, then you are guilty of double negligence. In order for the virus to activate, you have to open the email, and in most cases you have to deliberately open the attachment as well. Using a little common sense, you’ll know that strange emails from unknown senders are dangerous, especially when they have executable attachments with file names ending with “exe”, “com”, “bat”, or “scr” extensions. Even dangerous emails from known and trusted contacts can be easily identified if the email content seems strange and out of place. By being careful and responsible when opening your emails, you will not only prevent your own computer from being infected, but you will also prevent the worm from spreading further.
Main culprit number 10: you, the Internet user
What? To me? How the hell can I be a culprit? Well, you are an accomplished malware spreader if you don’t have an active and up-to-date antivirus suite installed on your computer, if you don’t regularly scan your computer for viruses and spyware, if you don’t use shields like SpyBot’s TeaTimer tool (which , by the way, it’s free), Ad-Aware’s Ad-Watch shield or AVG Anti-spyware’s resident shield (all of which you have to pay for, unfortunately), if you spend your time browsing pornographic and illegal websites and participating in sharing pirated software and copyrighted material (culprits 1-4), if you are not responsible with the software you install on your PC and the emails you open (culprits 6, 7 and 9) and if you refuse to use a secure web browser (such as Firefox) created to prevent malware infections (culprits 5 and 8). Yes, I will go as far as to say that if you stay away from culprits 1 through 7 and 9, you probably won’t need any virus and spyware protection. Culprit 8 is the only reason you should have antivirus and antispyware protection, for those unexpected attacks, over which you have no control.
Culprits 1-8 are the main sources of malware. The infections caused by them led to the creation of culprits 9 and 10, which spread the malware further. Don’t turn your computer into a malware haven or malware distribution center. Take responsibility, protect your computer against these threats and prevent the spread of malware.