Who doesn’t like Chinese takeout? The fried rice is fine, but who ordered the malware? Data from Symantec suggests that more malware comes out of China than any other country, more than a quarter of the worldwide total. The U S is still the biggest target of malware attacks and also initiates around 14 % of the pesky stuff. So much for where it comes from geographically, but that doesn’t necessarily help you avoid infection. I’m sure the reader’s question meant where as in email, Websites or what kinds of documents, programs and sites bring in the bad stuff.
We once thought of most malware infections coming from infected emails and while we can still be infected that way; it is not common. Most infections come from some kind of contact with the Internet. Let’s look at the top culprits. As I’ve stated before pornographic sites are still the worst, followed by music download sites (especially the illegal ones) and Internet game sites. Most of my readers won’t have trouble avoiding these hazards, but if you have teen aged boys, beware.
Probably the next biggest category of infections comes from unpatched (not updated) software starting with your Operating System, but extending to other programs. One very common source is pdf files which can be downloaded from many Websites today. Keep your pdf reader updated. You may find that a nuisance with Adobe’s Reader, so I recommend one like Foxit Reader that is much smaller and doesn’t need such frequent updates.
Other Internet hazards can involve downloading software, even seemingly good software from a contaminated site. Know who you are dealing with and if you are not sure, stay to proven download sites, names that you recognize. For novices; if it’s not on Ninite, FileHippo or CNet downloads, you probably don’t need it. Freeware is a big source of malware infections, but as you know I like freeware and recommend it over paid software that does the same job. You just have to be careful where you pick it up.
You can also be infected from portable drives. Malware can hide on a thumb drive for example and be transferred from one PC to another. Be careful who you borrow files and programs from. If in doubt, insert the drive and right click it and run your anti-virus scan before you open the file. School system PCs are easily infected, so always scan those when your children bring homework home.
If you think you are infected with malware, get off the Internet as soon as possible and I mean disconnect your cable or turn off your wireless router or both. Don’t give the malware a chance to pile on other infections as most will. Once you are vulnerable, things happen quickly and it’s best to remove yourself from continued downloads and changes to your system security that can make cleanup more difficult.
Till next week, keep safe and send your questions to: