What are Drive-by Downloads?

Most people nowadays don't give a second thought to the websites they visit, clicking through without thinking about if a link or a popup will redirect them or if a secure protocol is being utilized. Typically, this isn't a problem, but if you visit a malicious website, your device could be infected rapidly by the cybersecurity danger known as a drive-by download.

What is a Drive-by Download Attack?

Any malicious software installed into an individual's device without their knowledge or consent is referred to as a drive-by download. Just clicking on a link or an email itself can result in a drive-by download. Drive-by downloads may contain spyware, adware, malware, or a genuine product that the user does not want.

Antivirus software can usually halt drive-by downloads from websites and emails, but other types of drive-by downloads are more difficult to delete. A user may install a program that they want only to discover that a slew of unwanted apps accompanies it. Drive-by downloads are bothersome, but they may rapidly become infuriating if there is no obvious way to erase them.

How Does a Drive-by Download Attack Work?

A drive-by download works by utilizing any security holes they find in an App, operating system, or web browser that has been left unpatched owing to failed or omitted upgrades. A drive-by assault, unlike many other types of cyberattacks, does not require the user to allow the attack actively.

The steps involved are discussed below −

  • Malware is introduced into a compromised webpage by various means such as ads, messages, program downloads, infected code, etc.

  • The harmful element is triggered when the user accesses the page. It makes use of a flaw in a section of the user's computer's software stack.

  • The element discreetly downloads malicious files to the user's device, which may be a virus or any Trojan horse, or any other.

  • Then the Trojan horse or the infection runs, revealing a shell through which the attacker can take control of the device.

  • After that, the assailant can control the victim from afar. They can then retrieve passwords or other sensitive information from the user's device.

The attacker can now access another, more valuable system, such as a company's website or network, using credentials obtained from the user's device.

How to Stay Away from Drive-By Downloads

You can take the following precautionary measures to prevent drive-by attacks and protect your data and systems −

  • Keep your browser and internet security software up to date at all times to reduce the chance of drive-by downloads. Also, apply all Windows fixes as soon as they are available, and avoid clicking on links in unsolicited or otherwise suspect emails.

  • Some browsers will even issue a warning before allowing users to visit websites known to be hacked. Because drive-by downloads might infect a computer with viruses and malware, an antivirus tool can assist in detecting and neutralizing the threat if the download is successful.

  • Use a good firewall. A firewall can effectively identify and prevent recognized threats, even if it won't necessarily stop complex malware.

  • Install an ad blocker on your computer. Ads are widely used as infection vectors in drive-by download attacks. Installing an ad blocker will assist you from becoming a victim of this type of attack.

Updated on: 30-May-2022


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