How Does Malicious Software Get Into Your PC?

The question I am most often asked is:  “I only do basic things like e-mail and Facebook!  How does this malware get into my computer?”


While there are many ways that your computer can be breeched, these are the top six common ways:

  1. E-mail:  You receive a FW: _____ (forwarded) email from a friend, encouraging you to click on an attachment, enjoy the pictures and music, and then forward the email to 20 of your friends.
    ASK: ‘Did my friend personally create that attachment?’  If the answer is NO, then DO NOT CLICK on the attachment.
  2. Advertisements:  May websites sell space for advertisements on their web pages; this gives the website owner a source of revenue.  Cyber criminals and spammers have learned how to sneak into your computer through malvertisements placed in these ad spaces.
    ASK ME: about the AdGuard product that stops all advertisements from being displayed on web pages.  This not only speeds up displaying web pages, it also protects you from malvertisements.
  3. Scareware:  You receive a pop-up that freezes your browser, reports serious problems with your computer (sometimes along with sirens or a person speaking to you and probably scaring your pants off!), and offers that Windows Technical Support will fix the problem, if you call the toll-free number.
    STOP:  DO NOT call!  DO NOT let any strangers into your computer.
    CALL ME: for instructions to unfreeze your computer – No Charge.
  4. Phone Calls:  You receive an unsolicited phone call informing you that Microsoft has detected that your computer is sending out error messages or your Windows license has expired.  The caller with the accent and others talking in the background ask you to let them into your computer to fix the problem.
    STOP:  DO NOT let any strangers into your computer.  If you let them in, they add malware.  They ask for money for repairs.  If you do not pay, they lock you out of your computer.
    CALL ME to undo their damage, if by chance you have let them.
  5. Add-ons:  When you install some software, potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) are sometimes offered to be also installed.
    ACTION:  be aware and uncheck the box next to the offered optional software before installing what you do want; you won’t get these PUPs added onto your computer.
  6. Enticing Articles: On the right side of Facebook pages, there are sometimes articles (mostly sponsored).  Scammers have discovered that an interesting headline is enough to spark your curiosity enough to click on the article.  The topic may be a current event (Princess Kate, Joanna Gaines …) or some past event (Marilyn Monroe’s death …).
    STOP:  DO NOT click on these enticing stories.  You may be inviting malware into your computer.


What to do, if you’ve let in malware, is covered in my Kindle eBook, Keeping Your Computer Healthy, available on  If you suspect that you have Malware, call me to restore your computer to health again.

By Linda Lindquist, Certified Malware Removal Specialist,