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Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online
Introduction to cyber security: stay safe online

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2.5 Emails are not the only phish

An image of a computer keyboard. Instead of letters and numbers, on each key is an emoji.
Figure 11

Please don’t think that malware is spread solely through email. Malware will be spread through any means possible.

Malware can be distributed by including it with pirated material such as illegal copies of software, video games and movies. Malware can also be installed on your computer by clicking links on websites – especially sites that distribute illegal copies of software, videos and pornography – or by annoying pop-up windows that claim to have identified problems with your computer (quick tip – they probably haven’t! But it’s a great prompt to run your antivirus software and remind yourself what a genuine alert looks like on your computer).

A recent trend is for malware to be spread through social networking services, like Cory’s experience of the direct message on Twitter that you heard about in Week 1. Once it is on a machine running social networking software, the malware masquerades as the real user and posts messages containing links to sites that distribute yet more malware.

Once again, this type of malware relies on social engineering to multiply – users of social networks are highly likely to click on links they think have come from friends and spread the infection. Most of these social networking infections have exploited weaknesses in client software rather than the web versions of the networks, so it is important to keep social networking client software, such as the Facebook App for mobile devices, up to date.