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Microsoft: One in 14 downloads is malicious

According to Microsoft, one out of every fourteen programs downloaded by Windows users turns out to be malicious. Microsoft urges users to think twice when clicking on a download link to avoid an infected program.

As ComputerWorld reports, Microsoft is urging users to be cautious when downloading files online. We already know that most modern browsers come equipped with security features that help us keep clear of unknown and possibly malicious software, apparently 5% of users will simply ignore these helpful warnings and continue to download a file that is infected with a malicious Trojan horse or virus.

Hackers are now using a method called social engineering rather than hacking the browsers themselves. Users are tricked into installing an app or clicking on a link that is disguised as an interesting or popular story, which ends up being a Trojan horse.

The security company Symantec recently tracked the 50 most common malicious programs and found that 56% of all attacks included Trojan horse programs. “The attackers are very opportunistic, and they latch onto any event that might be used to lure people,” said Symantec Security Response manager Joshua Talbot.

Internet Explorer 9 comes equipped with something called a “SmartScreen Filter Application Reputation” which provides a first line of defense against Trojan horses. IE9 also warns users when they are being tricked into visiting sites that are malicious. This method of infection seems to be popular amongst social engineering hackers. IE’s SmartScreen feature has blocked nearly 1.5 billion web and download attacks, according to Microsoft. “You’re just seeing an explosion in direct attacks on users with social engineering. We were really surprised by the volumes. The volumes have been crazy.”

So the bottom line? We need to start taking those warnings seriously.

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