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Downloading Freebies Could Invite Malware

SophosLabs, security labs of security firm Sophos, has warned users of the potential risks of "freebies" in its recently posted blog.

According to SophosLabs, the biggest problem associated with freebies is that the user downloading free software is completely at the mercy of the author unless the user is familiar with the source from where he downloads the software tools or unless he is sure about the authenticity of the author of the application.

Download websites also plays a major part in making the things worse, as some of these websites don't even bother to check every piece of application uploaded to their sites. Some don't even care to scan the uploaded software for any kind of virus or malicious code.

Explaining in detail, SophosLabs picks up the example of an alleged HTML editor called "Bifrost", which according to the labs is a computer Trojan. This Trojan infiltrated the company's systems when a freeware was downloaded from a free software website. When the downloaded application (freeware) was run, it didn't start; in fact, the software was not even visible.

The backdoor Trojan revealed itself as a file on the Windows system folder of the user. It created a registry entry for itself to run upon next startup of the Windows.

Consequently, the Trojan, called "remote intruder" by the SophosLabs, gets activated on the user's PC and can then be used to gain control over that PC. This, in turn, can initiate several other kinds of malicious activities on the infected PC, which can be anything from turning user's PC into a zombie for stealing confidential data to using that PC for downloading more malware, etc.

In order to protect the systems from hijacking, some tips have been issued by SophosLabs to the users. They are suggested to think well before stepping ahead to download a free software - whether it is that much necessary to download a freebie. Most importantly, users should ensure that throughout the browsing, their anti-virus software should always be running. They should also regularly update all their security solutions.

Related article: Downloader trojans Hide in Counterfeit Video Clippings on YouTube

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