What is a dangerous drive-by download; and why should you care? A drive-by download is any unintended download of computer software from the Internet to your computer. The dangerous part comes in because the software downloaded is bad for you and your computer. It’s usually in the form of malware such as a virus, spyware, or a program that turns your computer into a bot or zombie under the control of a central computer commanded by cybercriminals.
These downloads are activated by visiting a website, clicking on an advertisement pop-up window, an error message, or viewing an email message. These download vehicles are designed to entice you to access them. Emails usually have a subject that refers to a current event that’s in the news and is interesting, such as a catastrophe like the Haiti earthquake, a sporting event such as the super bowl or world cup soccer. Scary error messages that convince you that your computer requires your immediate intervention look exactly like an authentic error pop-up from your computer. And if you think that only sleazy or suspicious-looking websites are used for the download…that would be a no. Cybercriminals have infected legitimate, popular websites too.
You can protect your computer to some extent by having a full function security software suite running and updated with the very latest information. Using a safe browsing tool such as Web of Trust (WOT) will warn you that a bad site you’re about to visit has been reported as such and give you a chance to change your mind. Being suspicious of emails from anyone…anyone you don’t know; and not opening them. This includes emails sent to you by someone you know if the subject is out of character for them or otherwise makes you suspicious. And it is not a good habit to click on pop-up advertisements…I never do—ever. Finally, you must keep your operating system and software updated with the latest revisions. This is because software companies use updates to correct vulnerabilities that are used by these downloads to enter your computer. Set your security settings to update automatically anytime there is a revision available.
If these methods of protection are things you’ve heard before, it’s because they’re best practices in computer security. If you already use these best practices in your computing environment—great. If not…unless you enjoy playing Russian roulette with your computer’s life; get busy implementing them. And if you don’t think you’re capable of doing so, get a computer support professional to help you. Even if you have to pay them, it’s worthwhile because it’s that important.
Please comment on this subject; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared.
Don’t miss an article. If you enter your email address in the Email Subscriptions box on the right column of this page, I’ll send you an email when a new article is posted. I don’t share your email address with anyone…no one; I hate spam too. Please share my site with your friends and family. Thanks.
Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.