Our computers run on software. That software needs to be updated periodically to make sure that it runs smoothly, contains fewer bugs, and, most importantly, keeps security up to date. But there are people out there that want nothing but the worst for you. They create programs, called malware or spyware, that will embed themselves on your computer. These programs can track your online activity, steal your sensitive information, and wreak havoc on your overall well being.
Here is a quick look at how that Malware gets onto your computer.
The Fake Software Update
You’re scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and you come across a link that a friend has shared. The thumbnail is intriguing, the headline is provocative, and you figure that if your friend shared it, then it must be worthwhile.
You click the link.
After a number of redirects, bouncing you through various countries around the world, you end up on a site that has absolutely nothing to do with that thumbnail that you first clicked on. Before the page even loads you get a pop-up window. That window says that a certain portion of your software is out-of-date and you need to update in order to view the site. You check the logo, see there is a link back to the official website, and determine that since it’s “official” you should run the update.
As soon as you click the button to update, your computer begins to download malware, or potentially a virus.
The malware can do a number of things to your system. First of all it is programmed to access your Facebook page and share the link. This will trick more of your friends into following the phony link. Next it begins to access all of the websites where you have been lately. Including bank accounts, emails, credit cards, and more. To make matters worse, your logins and personal information is being recorded by those that created the software.
A very sophisticated program will bog your computer down so much that you will be forced to restart. You close things down and reboot. The program begins to run again and your computer is so slow you can’t do much.
At this point you shut it down and in a few days you take it to the computer repair shop. Unfortunately the damage has been done, and ridding your system of the malware is just the tip of the iceberg.
Preventing Malware on Your Computer
The easiest way to prevent accidentally downloading malware is to never click on updates that you find online. Windows has all of these systems already built into place, and you should always run a software update through Windows, and not through the internet.
If you do become a victim, make sure you have a good anti-malware program installed. Malwarebytes is one of the best free programs you can get. Install it and run it at least weekly. It can be run after infection, but there’s no guarantee that nefarious files haven’t done damage.
Preventing infection is the key; ridding the infection as soon as possible after is important.