29 May 2016

Internet Safety - Common Sources of Viruses and Spyware


Viruses and spyware are sometimes commonly referred to as malware. They basically get installed in your machine without your permission and perform unwanted tasks, which either benefit some third party or destroy your machine.

These malware attacks can hamper important work that is involved with data and document. It is therefore, important for every computer user to understand the programs and software that can assist them protect their personal computers from attack.

There is need for everyone to take every possible measure to keep their computer systems free from malware attacks. To do so, understanding the sources of viruses and spyware is imperative and should be the first step towards protecting your computer from such attacks. Some of the top sources of viruses and spyware are as follows:

1). Downloadable Programs

One of the main sources of virus attacks is through downloadable programs found on the web. Mainly, these harmful downloadable programs abound on unreliable sources and internet news groups. The programs may include downloadable files, which is the commonest source of malware, and others like freeware, games, screen savers and many executable files.

In general, executable files that have an extension of “.exe”, “.com” and “coolgame.exe” are known to contain virus sources. As a result, when you want to download a program from the internet, it is important to scan every program that you wish to download before downloading it to check whether it contains any harmful malware.

Internet safety - common sources of viruses and spyware

2). Cracked Software

Another common source of malware are cracked software. Inherently, cracked software will at one time or the other prove to be harmful especially to people who consistently go for cracked, and/or illegal, software from the internet.

As these people download these versions of software, they are usually unaware of the reality that these software may contain viruses, spyware and bugs that could be difficult to detect, let alone remove from their computer. As a result, it is recommended that while downloading software from the internet, always go for download sources that are legal and appropriate in order to protect yourself.

Sometimes, people tend to use cracked or illegal software in order to avoid purchasing the original ones which they perceive as costly. However, it is important to know that the little money you may save from downloading the cracked software could result to huge losses especially when attacks from viruses and spyware destroy your computer. Always check out for the appropriate download sites for original and legal software.

3). Email Attachment

Email attachments are also common sources of computer malware. Mainly, the viruses are attached to an email in order to meet a certain purpose. Generally, these viruses are sent by a third party, and after opening the attachment your computer is attacked by the virus(es). As a result, it is important that you handle email attachments with extreme care especially when they originate from unknown sender(s).

One of the ways through which you may show extreme care is through the installation of a good antivirus which, of course, is of prime necessity if you wish to eliminate the possibility of virus attacks. With a good antivirus, a scan of your emails and attachments is initiated each time you want to download. Actually, you should scan all attachments, whether from known friends or from strangers because there is every possibility that a good friend may unknowingly forward a virus along with an email attachment and therefore, infect your computer in the process.

In addition, we are bombarded with spam emails every day. Although people hate them, there are some that may seem enticing; however, as soon as you open such mails, you become exposed to spyware threat and get infected. It is prudent to always steer away from these potential sources of spyware that even do not make sense.

4). Internet - Possible Source of Viruses and Spyware

The Internet is another possible source of virus and spyware attacks. There is a genuine source of attacks there but should not stop people from accessing the internet.

Basically, access to the internet enables access to various sites. Whereas some of the sites could be good, others could be harmful leading to serious infections. Sometimes it is hard to notice when viruses and spyware attack the computer systems, and therefore, while visiting harmful sites, which could be pleasing to users, most computer users may not be aware of what is going on in their computer.

Similarly, it is also important to know that initiating every computer download or clicking anything that come your way results in high possibility that you may click on a disingenuous or download a virus in the process.

Care should be taken especially when visiting sites you do not know. Bearing in mind that some of these sites may appear legal with innocent-looking links, or that your computer may download viruses even without your knowledge, it is prudent for computer users to install antivirus(es) that will provide premium safety to their computer ensuring the computer is always protected while visiting unknown sites which may be risky or when the command to install does not come directly from you.

More importantly, it is worth noting that some companies use a form of spyware known as adware to enable them gather information that they can use to study their consumers' Internet surfing habits. These companies may either use or sell the data to other companies.

After the adware has been installed on to your computer without your knowledge, the spyware can then trigger popup ads that are targeted at your perceived interest. Normally, the spyware may land into your computer when after visiting a given website, you see a popup asking you permission to download an application (the tone that is normally used in these instances causes you to believe that the download is necessary for opening a webpage that isn’t) and you click yes the spyware gets downloaded to your system. These popups normally make you provide not only your personal preferences but also your computer resources such as your internet connection bandwidth together with computer processing time and you do not get anything in return but more advertisements.

5). Booting from Unknown CD

Despite the fact that most people think that viruses and spyware come from data CD, it is now clear that virus attacks can also originate from unknown CD. More importantly, a computer gets infected from the CD while the computer is starting, if the CD is infected as well. It is therefore good practice to always remove a CD while the computer system is not on since lack of removing the CD after switching the computer system off, brings on high possibility of the computer system booting automatically from the disc. While booting, the CD may enhance a chance to install along with launching files and programs on a particular computer systems. This will result to harming the computer system.

6). Sharing Files

Similarly, file sharing networks such as Barshare, Limewire, and Kazaa could also be possible sources of virus attacks. This is more so because while installing files from the said sources, files or programs may be launched on a specific computer system that may be harmful to the system. Moreover, virus and spyware attacks can also come from sharing of files using flash drives. This is especially so when the flash drive is infected with a virus or a spyware, or when the flash drive is taking the files from an infected computer system.

Before inserting an external drive, whether a CD, a flash drive, or a hard disk, it is always important to scan through it before deciding to open it to continue with your desired purpose. Another crucial process that is normally done on the external drives with little memory is formatting after one is through with the information in them. Formatting deletes the viruses and spyware and this keeps these drives safer to use again.

A wireless home network is a hidden potential that can get your computer infected. Mainly, people who use wireless home network are normally exposed to the threat of virus and spyware infection through sharing computers that are connected to the same home network.

Essentially, an infected computer that connects to a home network and then switches on the sharing feature that is normally under home group and sharing option will tend to spread virus to other computers that have been connected to the same network. More importantly, this sharing can be achieved even without triggering any notification or signal, and therefore occuring without the knowledge of the computer users.

It is therefore recommended that shared home networks users always turn off their file and printer sharing feature so that they may be in a position to protect their computer from virus infection from other computers in the same home network.

Everloop partners with McAfee to provide online safety
Tween social network Everloop partnered with McAfee to provide an online proving grounds to practice online safety (credit: www.StopThinkConnect.org)
Computer security is obviously important and a crucial part of our lives. Viruses can damage your important files and spyware may provide your personal details to the wrong people. One of the biggest mistakes that people do is surfing on the web, or operating their computers, while their security settings are very low. Low security is a good catalyst for cookies, spyware programs and viruses to easily store in the computer memory. It is therefore important while using your computer, you always ensure that your security setting is either at default level or higher so that it scrutinizes everything getting into your system. It is also good to keep current on the operating system updates. Besides using an antivirus or/and a good spy remover, you can also use your eyes. Whenever you go to a site or download something that seems suspicious, just close it immediately. It is better to protect your computer than take chances.

Related: More articles on Internet safety

Author Bio:
Ebin Mathew is a freelance writer with over 10 years’ experience in authoritative essay writing companies. He enjoys writing about current trends and innovations in education, technology, online business and traveling.


  1. Antivirus are a must for any network or internet connected computer, to detect, remove and prevent all sort of malicious software !

  2. O yes! I couldn't agree more. Antivirus is very important specially for the machine on witch we used internet or save important data to kept safe. Ikenna, great article ,:)