There are countless articles that list common ways computers can get infected by a virus. Instead of revisiting those points, let's look at the top 5 trends in how computers are being exploited in 2015 and how you can protect yourself.
1. Opening attachments or links from unknown or spoofed emails
note: shown above are two examples of how viruses can often appear as legitimate messages, but are designed to trick the computer user.
[INFOGRAPHIC] How You Can Avoid Computer Viruses
This is one of the most common ways of getting infected with a virus or ransomware. E-mails are spoofed to look legitimate and contain an attachment or link that will infect your machine when clicked on. These spoofed emails are crafted so well these days that even a seasoned professional can be thrown off guard if not careful! Make sure you pay attention to the details before you open or click on anything.
2. Downloading software from malicious sites
When your computer gets infected with a virus, it’s common for someone to joke and say, “What kind of questionable files were you downloading?” It’s a common misconception that viruses only come from inappropriate or problematic websites, but viruses are a danger everywhere on the internet. Even if you're downloading software from a trusted source, there are still traps that can infect your computer.
For example, a user wants to download the Google Chrome browser and clicks on the link. The link provides the Google Chrome download file, which the user installs successfully. Unbeknownst to the user, the download package was injected with a virus and the computer is now infected (this problem actually occurs very often).
3. Online Ads
Malicious online ads, also known as Malvertising, is just another way your computer can get a virus without any realization or traceable evidence. Criminals often place clean ads on trusted websites and leave them in place for a while to gain credibility. After some time passes they put a malicious code in the ad that infects your computer when clicked on.
4. Social media
People are generally more relaxed about clicking on links published on social media sites and links shared by their contacts.
For example, there was a virus spreading on Facebook that infected thousands of people’s computers. This particular virus spread through a video that required a special software (plug-in) so the user could watch. The virus captured and recorded passwords used to log into your computer.
5. Unpatched software
The last topic we’ll discuss is one that most people overlook. Another way you can put your computer at risk of a virus infection is through unpatched software. Security holes unknown to software maker or antivirus vendors are also known as Zero-Day vulnerabilities. Exploits that stem from security holes affect software companies small and large, including the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Google.
During March 2013, Oracle released emergency patches to Java, a popular plugin used to view content on browsers and applications because of a vulnerability that allowed hackers to exploit computers without minimal barriers of entry.
If you enjoyed reading this post, stay tuned for our next blog on the 5 ways you can keep your business secure and safe from vulnerabilities.