According to the latest cybersecurity report from Microsoft, “deceptive downloads” were the top threat for 95 percent of the 110 countries surveyed.
What are deceptive downloads?
Deceptive downloads are legitimate downloadable programs (usually free) such as software, games, or music that cybercriminals bundle with malicious items.
For example, you might receive a file in email or through social networking, but when you try to open it you see a message that says you don’t have the right software to open it. You do a search online and come across a free software download that claims it can help you open the file. You download that software, but you unknowingly might also be downloading malicious software (also known as “malware”) with it. This malware might have the ability to access personal information on your computer or use your computer for cybercrime.
It could be months or even years before you notice your system has malware.
How can I avoid deceptive downloads?
- Think before you click.
- Only download software from websites you trust. For more information, see How do I know if I can trust a website?
- Turn on automatic updating so that you’re always using the latest, most secure versions of the software installed on your computer.
- Make sure you’re using antivirus software and keeping it up to date.
- Use newer software whenever possible.
What should I do if I think I’ve been a victim of a deceptive download?
Do a scan with your antivirus software. If your computer is running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you can use the built-in Windows Defender to check for and to help you get rid of a virus or other malware.
If your computer is running Windows 7 or Windows Vista, do the following:
- Run the Microsoft Safety Scanner. The scanner works with the antivirus software that you already have on your computer, regardless of whether the software is from Microsoft.
- Download Microsoft Security Essentials for free, and then use the software to run a scan of your computer. For more information, see Get free virus protection with Microsoft Security Essentials. (Note: Some malware will prevent you from downloading Microsoft Security Essentials. If you can’t access the Internet to download the software, try Windows Defender Offline.)
- Some malicious software can be difficult to remove. If your antivirus software detects malware but can’t remove it, follow these steps.
What is the Security Intelligence Report?
The Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR) covers research on computer security, including software vulnerabilities, exploits, and malicious and potentially unwanted software. Volume 16 of the report was released today. If you want to learn more about deceptive downloads and other key findings, please visit Microsoft.com/SIR.