An exploit kit is a software toolkit which gets injected into a site that is either malicious (created for the purpose of infecting PC’s via things such as spam e-mail links) or hacked (a trusted site that has been compromised) and silently installs itself while you are using your computer.
How do exploit kits infect your PC?
The most common way an exploit kit will infect your PC is by looking for software, plug-ins or addons that haven’t been patched. As the name suggests, the exploit kit exploits the vulnerabilities of out dated software and find a way into your PC. Exploit kits can hide themselves in many places but are usually in spam e-mails in the form of attachments or links to malicious webpages. We all know there are “bad places” on the Internet, so be wary of where you direct your browser to and what kind of downloads you make.
How can I protect myself against exploit kits?
There are three simple steps you can take to keep your computer protected from exploit kits (and other nasties out there):
1. Patch everything: Exploit kits make their way in through out dated versions of software. The two most common pieces of software that leave people vulnerable to attacks are Java and Adobe Acrobat PDF reader. Java releases updates frequently, so if you don’t need it – remove it. You can always re-install Java should you need to use it. A list of things to keep updated includes:
- Windows Updates
- Browser addons and plug-ins
- Software (Java, Adobe, Media Players, Anti-virus etc.)
2. Stay away from spam e-mails: Be careful about what you open. If you aren’t expecting an e-mail from PayPal, your bank, a pizza delivery or even a friend (they could be infected and sending spam) – don’t open it, delete it. The same goes for any attachments or links on or in e-mails.
3. Use an anti-virus: This tip is pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you keep your anti-virus up to date as exploit kits are always evolving. At this point in time, we recommend you use Avast as an antivirus.
4. Make sure you back up: If you do get infected, it's always important to have a copy of everything before your computer was compromised. Check out our blog article on cloud back up services. Get in the habit of backing up your important files before it's too late!