6 Common Myths About Web Safety – Part 1

internet safety securityComputer Viruses, Malware, Trojans, Spyware, Adware, Rootkits, Bootkits…. a wild menagerie of threats to be sure.  I’ll use the generic term “Malware” to refer to all these types from now on.  You may not have even heard of some of these forms of infections.  What the heck can you do?  How worried do you need to be?  The truth is, we’re all subject to these risks, but the better informed you are, the safer you’ll be.

This will be a series of posts where I’ll try to give you a simple rundown of the most common myths that get people into trouble.  How many parts will there be in this series?  That depends on how much time I have to write, or how sleepy I am if I’m writing at night.  I’m guessing two or three.

 

Myth #1: I Must be Safe Because I’ve Never Had a Virus Infection

Guess again my friend.  How would you know, when most malware and Trojans are designed to be stealthy and work behind the scenes without your knowledge?  That’s the whole point!  Yes, some types of malware do get your attention, especially the ones trying to sell you fake software, but this is only one type of infection.

Others may be lurking behind the scenes trying to steal your passwords, credit  card numbers, etc.  Eventually, if there are enough of them on your computer, you’ll notice performance slowdowns, lockups, error messages or even crashes.  This may be the only warning you’ll get that something is wrong, but by then it may be too late.

You won’t believe how many computers come in to our shop for other types of repairs, where we find viruses and malware galore.  As part of our troubleshooting, we always run a quick scan and sure enough, most of them have some type of infection.  They’re not always serious, but it goes to show how common this problem is.

Myth #2: Only Porn, Gambling and Other “Questionable” Sites are Dangerous

Of course, these are by far the riskiest sites out there, so you should avoid or at least minimize your visits to such sites (nudge-nudge).  Did you know that an estimated 83% of trusted, legitimate sites are hacked and infected with malware?  Now that’s scary!  The bigger sites monitor their sites, but hey can’t always keep up.  Most of the time they’re clean, but you can’t know if they’re clean when you visit them.

Why do they target these sites?  Because that’s where the money is!  They are popular, high-traffic sites, so they’re the best way to distribute the infections.  Most of the time they just hack the site.  If they can’t get in that way, they use other tricks.  One for example, is to pose as an advertiser wanting to post an ad on a legitimate site.  Once they’ve submitted and paid for their ad, they’ve built up trust with the site.  Then later, they post an update to their ad, embedding malicious code in it and voila… they’ve infected the site.

Stay tuned for Part 2.