We all know computers face security threats, but did you know the most common point of entry to a computer for malware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) is the owner?
Video tip: click the square button in the bottom right of the video box to watch in full screen.
It has happened to most of us at some point; we have acquired a free program from the internet which works just fine, but suddenly our web browser has an extra toolbar and a new game or security system has suddenly appeared. These are known as malware or potentially unwanted programs, and at best they’re an annoying way to push ads and in-app purchases at you. At worst they can do all the damage of a fully fledged virus.
The double installation is annoying and an apparent violation of trust, but chances are you did agree to it. An increasing amount of free software – even software from giants like Adobe – is free because other software developers have paid to include their program in the installer. There is usually a checkbox which can be unchecked to prevent the installation, but that is often not obvious.
The assumption that “I have antivirus software, I am immune” is now very outdated. Potentially Unwanted Programs and hacker intrusions require keyboard or mouse input from the owner to be effective, and antivirus software cannot screen your keyboard or mouse. That means YOU, the person clicking buttons, must take responsibility for your PC’s security.
If you keep an eye out for warning signs like two license agreements, and double check every option in the installer, avoiding PUPs is possible. Alternatives are to use the Windows 10 Store (which has built-in malware screening) to acquire apps, or avoid installing programs and games altogether.
Warragul Computer Repair has produced an in-depth video tutorial on why PUPs exist and how to spot them. You can watch it above.
Free software is great, but be careful when choosing what to install: you might get more than you bargained for.