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5 Lesser Known Ways to Get a Virus

published 2/28/2020

In 2017, cybercriminals uploaded at least 360,000 new malware files each day to the web.

In 2019, Kaspersky Lab detected over 24.61 million unique malicious objects. That's a 13.7% increase in malware variety from the year before.

Seeing as there are so many types of malware out there, your own devices could easily get a virus. What's even worse is that cybercriminals employ all kinds of obscure trickery. Methods that, unfortunately, still work despite increased user awareness.

Keep in mind that cybercriminals don't only target big names -- they love small businesses too. So much so that in 2019, more than four in 10 data breaches victimized SMBs. Even regular folks are a big target market of cybercrimes.

You likely know that emails are among the most common carriers of malware, such as viruses. However, there are many not-so-obvious ways, including the five we've listed below.

1. Browser Extensions

Browser extensions are also known as "plugins" or "add-ons". These small programs add functionalities to browsers, such as Chrome and Firefox. They power-up browsers with extra features to enhance a user’s browsing experience.

For instance, some extensions automatically check for proper grammar and spelling. Other plugins let you block pop-ups or advertisements. Some let you automate tasks like sending emails, while others help you manage your tabs.

Unfortunately, some add-ons are only masquerading as helpful tools and are actually malware. Download the wrong extension, and you may also download a virus along with it. Some of these can also redirect you to websites with viruses.

Just this February, Google decided to remove more than 500 Chrome extensions. The company found that these plugins were sending users to malicious sites.

That said, not all extensions are bad, but be very careful with your add-on choices. Stick to programs from established developers and those with exceptional reviews. This way, you can prevent viruses from bad add-ons that can infect your browser and devices.

2. Clickbait

"You won't believe this..."

"The shocking truth about...."

Sounds familiar? Well, that's because they're among the most common clickbait phrases saturating the Internet.

Clickbait, most often used as a headline, utilizes sensationalism to entice web users. They use exaggeration to make a web user feel drawn to click on that link. In fact, eight in 10 clickbait titles incorporate an element of shock to compel users to, well, click on them.

The bad news is, many of these links will send you over to sites where the rates of infection are super high. Many of these sites are also linked to software filled with malware programs.  

3. Filling Out Online Forms

A good example is the 2014 "Eskimo" malware that targeted Twitch and Steam gamers. The program, designed as a "Twitch-bot", sent phishing messages to Twitch's chat forums. Some of the messages contained a link to raffle entries, while others claimed that the target won a prize.

The virus then made its way to the computers of those who filled out the form or clicked on the "confirm" link. Many victims ended up with game items that they didn't buy. Others have had their accounts drained of their gaming money.

4. Malverts

Malverts (as in "malicious advertisements") deliver malware via online ads. It's one of the most common "online viral vectors", with studies saying they've increased by 325% in 2015. These ads contain viruses, spyware, and other types of malware you never want to encounter.

Unfortunately, these ads are all over the web, including some of the most trusted sites out there. Reuters, Yahoo, and even Spotify have had these ads featured on their sites.

One way that these malverts can sneak into sites is that cybercriminals buy ad space in a legitimate way. After that, they load these spaces with all manners of cyber filth. Clicking on these ads can result in a virus getting downloaded to your devices. 

5. Mobile Device Viruses

From January to June 2019, mobile device cyberattacks went up by 50% compared to the year before. What's even scarier is that some malware types come pre-installed in brand-new devices. Such is the case for at least 7.4 million Android phones that Google researchers looked into.

In case you were wondering, yes, malware in mobile devices can also spread to PCs and laptops. So, if your computer has been running slow after connecting it to your phone, it's likely infected.

Bluetooth Transfers

There are viruses that spread across mobile devices through Bluetooth. Devices that are always in discoverable mode are at the highest risk of getting infected. What's more, these viruses can spread to PCs and laptops if they get connected to an infected phone.

MMS Virus Attachments

If you have an iPhone linked to a Mac, the virus can infect your computer or laptop too. This can happen if you use your Mac's "Messages" feature to access your iPhone's inbox. Opening an infected MMS attachment can send the virus straight into your Mac.

USB Connections

As of the last quarter of 2018, over 20% of Windows malware types were of the virus kind. These viruses can spread to computers from infected smartphones via a USB connection.

Let's say that you have a smartphone with a Windows virus and you plug it into your computer. If you have autorun set up, then a copy of the virus can transfer to your PC or laptop. The virus can then infect other devices that you link to your now-infected computer. 

Don't Let These Sneaky Tricks Force Your Devices to Get a Virus

There you have it, your ultimate guide on the unapparent ways that your devices can get a virus. Now that you know what they are, you can better protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Did a virus infect and render your computer or laptop inefficient? We may be able to restore your device and get rid of all malware infecting it! Get in touch with our computer repair stores so we can assist you ASAP.