Sometimes we get nostalgic about cybersecurity. We miss the days when dangerous sites or links were blatantly obvious and when you had to accept a download. Now, with drive-by downloads, you could be reading one of those addictive “Top 10” lists while completely unaware of the malicious code being downloaded to your device.
How drive-by downloads work
Drive-by downloads are unintentional downloads of a virus or malware that happen while visiting a website that is running malicious code. Most of the time, these are legitimate websites that have been compromised and redirect users to a site controlled by the hackers. At the hacked website, your computer’s operating system, software and web browser are searched for vulnerabilities. If a vulnerability is found, the malware installs itself on your device and gets to work.
Preventing drive-by downloads
While drive-by downloads occur without user knowledge, there are steps you can take to protect your company’s devices and data:
- Install updates: Quit pressing “remind me later” and install your software updates whenever they are needed. Outdated software is the number one way hackers gain entry to a device.
- Set up auto-scans and updates: Make your life easier by setting up automatic anti-virus scans and updates.
- Remove admin rights: Don’t let employees have admin rights; instead give them standard user rights so they have to consult with you before downloading anything. This won’t directly prevent a drive-by attack, but it will stop employees from downloading anything that could increase the vulnerability of a device.
- Install web-filtering software: Web-filtering software can prevent users from going to compromised websites. Google search will sometimes let you know when a site is potentially dangerous, but there are far more sophisticated options out there that can detect a site with drive-by downloads and prevent users from entering the site.
Unfortunately, you can’t stop every attack, so scan your systems as often as possible. The sooner you remove the virus or malware the better.