Malware 101: How do I get malware? Simple attacks

Authored by a NortonLifeLock employee


We’ve previously explained the different types of malware that are prevalent on the threat landscape, which begs the question: How does malware get onto my computer?

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Bundled Free Software Programs

Free is never usually 100% free when it comes to software and apps- there is always some trade-off. Frequently, free software companies will partner with other companies and bundle additional software within the download. Mostly, these programs are bundled with toolbar add-ons, however, hidden within these add-ons can be spyware, ad libraries, and even browser hijackers. While this is not malware that can cause destructive behaviors to the computer itself, it can cause annoyances like slowing down your computer, and can even steal sensitive data if there is spyware or keyloggers installed.

File Sharing, BitTorrent, and other Peer-to-peer File Sharing Services

Downloading content illegally is bad, but it’s a highly popular activity. Usually using a BitTorrent client, users can download media via peer-to-peer file sharing. However, these files tend to travel across multiple computers, which probably don’t all have Internet security software, so they are easily infected with malware. Additionally, hackers will set up fake files on these networks that are based on popular downloads that are actually malware in disguise.

Removable Media

A new form of malware was recently found, concealed in the firmware of a USB stick. Firmware is software embedded in the hardware of the device and used for the basic functioning of the USB stick. Since the malware is hidden in the firmware and not the storage area of the stick, it is very hard to detect. It’s not just USB sticks, either. Recently, malware was found in the USB charger of an electronic cigarette. In addition to USB, external hard drives, CDs and DVDs can contain malware if they have been connected to an infected computer.


Scareware, which is also known as rogueware, is malware that masquerades as Internet security software. The user is presented with a pop-up using scare tactics, notifying them that their computer is infected, which in fact, is not. It will usually contain a link to click for “cleaning up” the malware, which is just more malware in disguise.

Not Using An Internet Security Software Program

This really should go without saying, but there are still users out there that do not understand the importance of security software in today’s digital age. According to the Europol Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment, 2.8 billion people access the Internet, and there are an estimated 10 billion Internet enabled devices in the world. The cybercriminal industry costs the global economy approximately 300 billion dollars a year. These numbers alone prove how essential it is to have protection across all of your devices as, business is certainly booming in the malware world. An individual can be extremely cyber-savvy and know exactly what to be on the look out for as far as threats are concerned, but considering that you can now contract malware by simply visiting a compromised website, you’ll need a good Internet Security program, such as Norton Security, that can intercept the hidden dangers lurking on the Internet landscape.

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Disclaimers and references:
Symantec Corporation, the world’s leading cyber security company, allows organizations, governments, and people to secure their most important data wherever it lives. More than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock comprehensive digital safety platform to help protect their personal information, devices, home networks, and identities.

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