It’s very easy to overlook the abilities of a computer virus as technology advances. Most of us simply avoid clicking on fishy websites or avoid downloading anything we don’t recognize. But that doesn’t mean a computer virus can be avoided completely.
As technology progresses, hackers are inventing numerous ways to infect and invade. And yes, that includes visiting a seemingly “safe” website.
How Can Your Computer Get a Virus from a Safe Website?
There are plenty of ways to get around a typical internet user’s efforts. But most often, a tool kit called “Exploit Kits” are used. Exploit kits hide the virus so that it can’t be recognized by normal means.
1. Exploit Kits
Exploit kits find the vulnerabilities to infect your computer as you are browsing the internet. Hackers use these regularly as it is automatic and they don’t need to physically do any of the searching or hacking. They can deploy an exploit kit and it will do the rest for them.
Exploit kits follow a set of scripts that are designed to infiltrate and then deliver a payload. It places a remote access tool, also known as RAT, on your device. It then proceeds to send malicious files that can harm your computer by locking you out from using the computer completely or sometimes it can also access banking information and such.
2. Drive-By Downloads
Unintentional downloads of malware are known as drive-by downloads. It is designed to be stealthy and you won’t even know it is being downloaded. Even clicking to close an ad can trigger drive-by downloads. It can then steal information or take control of your device and proceed to interrupt the usability of your computer.
How Can You Protect Yourself from Virus Infection by Visiting a Website?
Anti-virus software can have hidden viruses as well. So it is not the solution for every situation.
The best way to keep viruses at bay is to rely on user-permitted security options. Such options prevent auto-downloading and make your browsing experience safe.
While the right software can prevent viruses from attacking, there are still some other preventive measures you should take to ensure your safety.
- Keeping the software up to date is probably the most important of all. The anti-virus and anti-exploit software, the browser you’re using, and your operating system, keeping them updated at all times makes them less vulnerable to virus attacks.
- Since ads can be a point of entrance for malware, try running ad-blockers. But also keep in mind that an ad-blocker won’t be able to prevent an exploit if the exploit is built into the webpage itself.
- Plug-ins are known for their vulnerabilities. If the usage of your plug-ins can’t be stopped then setting them up as Click-to-Play or Ask-to-Activate is a better solution for you. So that even if an exploit tries to get in through those plug-ins, you will have full control of it.
- If not previously approved, whitelisting software can prevent executable files from running. So even if a malicious code is automatically downloaded, since you haven’t whitelisted it before, it will not run.
- Scripts can also run automatically and load malicious content so running a script blocker is also very helpful. It protects you from on-page exploits and ad-included exploits. But running both ad-blocker and script-blocker is more beneficial as it ensures complete safety.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do you know if a website gives you viruses?
Google Safe Browsing is where you can go to check if the website you want to visit is safe or not. You can follow the below process:
- Copy the URL link of the website you want to check for viruses.
- Go to google.com and type Google Transparency Report on the search bar.
- Click on the first link that’s titled Safe Browsing – Google Transparency Report.
- Click on the 3 bars on the left-hand side corner of the webpage and select Google Safe Browsing.
- Click on the Site Status tab and paste the copied link of the website you want to check.
It will then show you if the website has hosted any viruses or malware in the past 90 days.
What if I accidentally clicked on a suspicious link?
Disconnect the device from the internet and other networks. Close the open tab. This will prevent the spread of the malware.
Keep in mind that acting with caution is always of the essence. Mainstream websites are more likely to spread malware as it’s much easier for hackers to lure you into a legit website. Since you are already aware of the fact that you can get attacked by a virus from just visiting a website, it is always better to increase your protection chances rather than trying not to click on random things.