Malicious Websites

In Brief

The Internet offers us unique opportunities, but it is also the platform of choice for cybercriminals. In fact, web browsers serve as fantastic entry points for malicious software (malware).

One of the most widespread ways of getting infected is still deception – through social engineering techniques to make people download and install malicious code onto their computers themselves, without realising what they are doing.

By exploiting human feelings (social engineering), such as curiosity or even fear, people can be made to install ‘fake antivirus software’, scareware, and other malicious code. The wrongdoer could, for example, make a victim believe that their computer is infected, thereby arousing a feeling of fear. Leveraging this feeling, the criminal then leads the user to download an ‘antivirus’ program which turns out to be a Trojan horse, rather than a protective program.

Various software programs are available to help Internet users to recognise these different forms of attacks based on social engineering. For example, there is the browser add-on WOT (Web Of Trust), which warns people when they visit a website with a poor reputation. Users should also pay heed to warnings provided by search engines or their own browser when they warn against viewing a given page.


Drive-by-download is a method of infecting computers using malicious code, exploiting the technical vulnerabilities of the browser. Users are tricked into downloading malicious code which, unbeknownst to the user, attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in the browser and automatically infect the machine.

How Can You Protect Yourself Against This?

Behavioural Measures

  • Watch out for social engineering type attacks
  • Find out how to recognise messages from your own antivirus software. Many malicious sites trick Internet users into downloading fake antivirus software by claiming that the user’s machine is infected.

Technical Measures