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How Malware Spreads
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Once they’ve infected a system, spyware and the like can be very difficult to remove. For that reason, the best defense against them is to prevent them from infecting your computer in the first place.

Malware is typically spread in the following ways:

  Email Attachments

One of the most common ways malware makes their way into computers is through spam. Attachments are embedded in these junk email messages, sent by the millions to every email address in existence, which unsuspecting recipients click, open, and execute. But how can people be that dumb, you may ask? Well consider the filename of a typical Trojan Horse:

Kittens playing with yarn.jpg .scr

Since Windows by default has its filename extensions hidden, most people wouldn’t see that this is an .scr (screensaver) file and not a photo of kittens. Since most spam filter sand antivirus programs block .exe. files, but not .scr files (which are just renamed .exe file, by the way), this innocuous looking file is more than likely to spawn a nasty virus on someone’s computer

  Peer to peer file sharing

Napster started the P2P file sharing craze, but file sharing goes far beyond the trading of harmless music files. Its estimated that 40% of the files available on these P2P networks contain viruses, Trojan Horses, and other unwelcome guests, but these aren’t the biggest cause of concern.

In order to facilitate the exchange of files, the P2P programs open network ports and create gaping holes in your computer’s firewall, any of which can be exploited by a variety of worms and intruders. And since most people leave these programs running all the time, these security holes are constantly open for business.

Many P2P programs come with a broad assortment of spyware and adware, intentionally installed on your system along with the applications themselves. Kazaa, one of the most popular file sharing clients, is also the biggest perpetrator of this, and the likely culprit if your system has become infected with spyware.

  Websites

It may sound like a conspiracy theory, but even the act of visiting some websites can infect your system with spyware and adware. While loading a web page, you may see a message asking you if its okay to install some ActiveX gadget necessary to view the page. Your answer is simple and should be No.

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