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What is a drive-by Download?

Web sites you visit can download and install software without your knowledge or approval. This is called a drive-by download. The objective is usually to install malware, which may:

  • Record what you type and what sites you visit.
  • Search your computer for stored passwords.
  • Open your computer to remote control. 

Drive-by downloads are difficult to guard against. Legitimate sites can even be hijacked into hosting drive-by downloads though third-party ads.

Drive-by downloads happen in two ways

  1. Advertising popup or other active portion of a web page: clicking or even attempting to close them is interpreted as consent to download and malware is installed on your computer. The ads or popups often look like a legitimate warning from your operating system or antivirus software.
  2. Display of web page content: if page content includes elements that need to be downloaded to view correctly, your browser may offer to download, infecting your machine.

Last updated 06/19/2014


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