Sorry, infected websites usually don't come with a warning.

I read a great article today from Tom’s Guide, that was published a few months back after analyzing some data provided by Symantec. It states a bold, but all to true, fact: You’re more likely to get an infection from a religious site than one serving up adult material.  The reason is simple: the folks running adult oriented sites pay a lot more attention to the security of their site than those in other categories. While this is a startling fact to hear, and good for getting attention, it doesn’t mention the most important fact in the article:

61-percent of the websites found to be infected were actually “regular” web sites that have been compromised rather than sites intentionally created to serve up malware.

This is really the answer to the question “but I didn’t go on any bad websites, how did I get infected?”. You may not have gone on that adult content website, and maybe you knew enough to stay away from that site promising a free iPad. However, your favorite church, family members blog, or company site may not have been well enough secured by those building it – leaving all their visitors exposed.

So as an average computer user bouncing around online – what can you do? Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Protect Yourself: AVG makes a very good (and free!) product. This antivirus program will check links for you as you visit them (assuming you install it with all the default options). Running this, along with a periodic Malware Bytes scan is easy, free, and pretty effective.
  • Don’t Install It: That tool bar you have to install to get your free iPad or 95% off coupon to Pizza Hut is a bad idea. It’s junk at best, a terrible virus at worst. And besides, you don’t really think you’re getting a free iPad, do you?
  • Get Off The Site!: If you land on a site and something feels wrong, starts installing in the background, or in any other way feels suspicious – move on. It’s not worth the risk.

None of these are fool proof, but if you keep them in mind and use some common sense along the way, you might just be able to visit any category of site your heart desires without needing to contact ROC IT Out to clean your computer up.