There was once a time when having enough common sense to not download files from suspicious sources was enough to avoid getting infected by a computer virus.
That all changed when a newer generation of malware known as "drive by downloads" were unleashed, capable of sneaking into hard drives whenever users visited a malicious site and essentially making anti-virus software something of a day-to-day requirement. Now a recently discovered class of viruses poses a similar threat to perhaps the last bastion of secure cyberspace.
They're called "drive-by emails," and like "drive-by downloads" they infect machines without having to open an attachment, download a file or click on a link. Simply opening an e-mail to read it is enough of a gateway for Trojans and other nasties to invade. The malware is even stealth enough to avoid virus scanners so users won't receive any warning and the only indication that something out of the ordinary is happening is a message that appears as "Loading…Please wait…"
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The firm has provided a screenshot of what the current wave of virus-carrying spam messages looks like, with the subject heading "Banking security update“ and a sender address with the domain fdic.com, a US-based insurance company.
For now, make sure that your e-mail account is comprehensively protected against spam and malware and that all spam and malware filters are updated. And obviously, hold off on opening any e-mails in which you don't know the sender.
Whereas we've all been advised to be cautious, rule of thumb nowadays is to use extreme caution.
Learn more about internet security on SmartPlanet:
- How phone hacking works (and other lessons from the News Corp. scandal)
- Dramatic video: hacker vs. computer
- Infographic: How Stuxnet supervirus works
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