How Malicious Files Infect Your Computer

Don't let malware get past your defenses...

malicious files

The one thing that makes computers so vulnerable to malicious files is how innocent they often appear. One minute you’re minding your own business and wham! Suddenly, your computer is acting strangely. From pop-ups to sluggish behavior, you realize that you’ve been duped, but the real question is how did it happen to begin with?

Common Ways Malicious Files Deceive You

If malicious files were incredibly easy to spot, the digital world would be a much safer place. However, cyber criminals excel at finding new ways to make even the worst malware seem like something you want.

Email is by far the most common method used to infect computers. While some emails are obviously spam, others may appear to come from someone you trust. For instance, an email may look like it came from a friend, but instead, it comes from a stranger. Once you open the attached file, your computer is infected. Microsoft Office files are commonly used since they’re such a trusted file type.

Even if you don’t download a file, you might still click a link which then installs malicious files on your computer. Sometimes, it’s safer to not be curious. Remember what curiosity did to the cat, right?

Another tricky tactic is malware that installs with legitimate apps. Instead of just the one app, you get a nasty surprise in the form of extra files that love to wreak havoc with your machine.

Sometimes malicious files pose as legitimate files. The extension may seem safe, but what you’re seeing isn’t the real extension. What appears to be a .DOC file may actually be a .EXE file. When you click it, files are installed.

Related Read: How to Spot 6 Sneaky Types of Computer Malware

Detecting Malicious Files Before They Infect

It’s always best to be proactive and avoid malicious files before they become a problem. A few ways to outsmart the cyber criminals include:

  • View hidden file extensions – Open File Explorer and go to View > Options (far right) > Change folder and search options. Click the View tab and uncheck Hide extensions for known file types.
  • Hover over a sender’s email address to see if it’s actually their email. If you still have doubts, contact the sender directly before trying to click any links or download attachments.
  • Avoid downloading files from sites you don’t trust. When you need an app, go to the official website or an app store, such as Windows Store.
  • Watch the installation process for any new app. Uncheck boxes for any additional software, such as toolbars, browser plugins, and video/audio editing software.
  • Switch off your administrator privileges. This prevents you from installing software or apps without first entering your password. Changing to Standard User gives you a little more protection.

Protect Yourself in Real-Time

Despite your best intentions, malicious files may still slip past. This is why you need an antivirus tool, such as Digital Care AntiVirus Complete, to watch your back. Even if you click a malicious file, the tool catches it before it can infect your computer.

That being said, it’s important to not rely on your antivirus alone. Be diligent yourself and use antivirus as an extra layer of protection.

Related Read: Ransomware Protection Tips to Keep You Safe

Contribution by Crystal Crowder

About the Author

Crystal lives and breathes tech. She’s spent over a decade writing tutorials, reviews, and more on tech, business, and lifestyle sites. Her idea of fun is settling down with the latest tech and gadget news.