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Edwin Aboryo
Edwin Aboryo

Drive by Download Attack: A Common Cyberattack Technique Explained

Drive by Download Attack: What It Is and How to Prevent It

Have you ever visited a website and noticed that your device started acting strangely? Or have you ever clicked on a link or an ad and ended up downloading something you didn't want? If so, you may have been a victim of a drive by download attack.

A drive by download attack is a type of cyberattack that involves the involuntary download of malicious code, file or software onto your computer or mobile device. Cybercriminals may use drive by downloads to harvest your personal information, spy on you, inject banking Trojans, or infect your entire network with malware.

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Drive by download attacks can happen in many ways. You don't have to click on anything, press download, or open a malicious email attachment to become infected. A drive by download can take advantage of an app, operating system, or web browser that contains security flaws due to unsuccessful updates or lack of updates.

Unlike many other types of cyberattack, a drive by doesn't rely on the user to do anything to actively enable the attack. However, there are some actions that can increase your risk of exposure to drive by downloads, such as visiting untrusted websites, clicking on suspicious links or ads, or downloading unknown software.

In this article, we will explain what is a drive by download attack, how it works, and what are the consequences of a drive by download attack. We will also discuss the different types of drive by download attacks, such as authorized and unauthorized downloads, malvertising and exploit kits. Finally, we will provide some tips on how to prevent and remove drive by downloads from your device.

Types of Drive by Download Attacks

There are two main types of drive by download attacks, each concerning the unintended download of computer software from the Internet:

  • Authorized drive by downloads are downloads which you have authorized but without understanding the consequences (e.g. downloads which install an unknown or counterfeit executable program, ActiveX component, or Java applet).

  • Unauthorized drive by downloads are downloads which happen without your knowledge, often a computer virus, spyware, malware, or crimeware.

Let's take a closer look at each type and how to avoid them.

Authorized Drive by Downloads

Authorized drive by downloads are downloads that you initiate yourself, but without being fully aware of what you are downloading or agreeing to. For example, you may click on a link on a deceptive fake security alert or download a Trojan disguised as a legitimate program.

How to prevent drive by download attacks on your device

Drive by download malware: what it is and how to remove it

The dangers of drive by download attacks and how to protect yourself

What are the signs of a drive by download infection and how to fix it

Drive by download exploit kits: how they work and how to avoid them

How to detect and block drive by download attacks with antivirus software

Drive by download attack examples and case studies

How to recover from a drive by download attack and restore your data

Drive by download statistics and trends in 2023

How to educate your employees about drive by download risks and best practices

Drive by download vs phishing: what's the difference and how to tell them apart

How to secure your web browser against drive by download attacks

Drive by download attack vectors and techniques

How to report a drive by download attack and get help

Drive by download laws and regulations: what you need to know

How to perform a drive by download attack simulation and test your defenses

Drive by download prevention tips and tricks

Drive by download attack mitigation and response strategies

How to monitor and analyze drive by download attacks on your network

Drive by download attack tools and resources

How to identify and remove drive by download adware and spyware

Drive by download ransomware: how it works and how to stop it

How to update your software and plugins to prevent drive by download vulnerabilities

Drive by download attack costs and consequences for businesses and individuals

How to backup your data and create a recovery plan for drive by download incidents

Drive by download attack research and publications

How to configure your firewall and router to block drive by download traffic

Drive by download attack history and evolution

How to audit your website and web applications for drive by download risks

Drive by download attack news and alerts

How to use VPNs and proxies to avoid drive by download attacks

Drive by download botnets: how they operate and how to disrupt them

How to disable JavaScript and Flash to reduce drive by download exposure

Drive by download attack challenges and solutions for 2023 and beyond

How to use sandboxing and virtualization to isolate drive by download threats

Drive by download attack prevention checklist and guide

How to scan your device for drive by download infections with online tools

Drive by download attack myths and facts

How to use encryption and authentication to protect your data from drive by download attacks

Drive by download attack reviews and ratings of antivirus products and services

How to clean your browser cache and cookies after a drive by download attack

Drive by download attack FAQs and answers

How to use browser extensions and add-ons to enhance your security against drive by download attacks

Drive by download attack podcasts and videos

How to use honeypots and deception techniques to lure and trap drive by download attackers

Drive by download attack forums and communities

How to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and prevent drive by download attacks

Drive by download attack courses and certifications

These downloads may seem harmless or even beneficial at first glance, but they may contain hidden payloads that can harm your device or compromise your security. For example, they may install adware that displays unwanted pop-ups or banners on your browser, or spyware that monitors your online activity and steals your personal data.

To avoid authorized drive by downloads, you should be careful about what you click on and what you download from the Internet. Here are some tips:

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  • Only download software from reputable sources. Check the reviews, ratings, and feedback from other users before downloading anything.

  • Use a reliable antivirus program and keep it updated. Scan any downloaded files before opening or running them.

  • Be wary of any pop-ups, alerts, or messages that claim your device is infected or needs an update. These may be fake and designed to trick you into downloading malware.

Unauthorized Drive by Downloads

Unauthorized drive by downloads are downloads that happen without your consent or knowledge. You don't have to click on anything or download anything to become infected. A drive by download can happen simply by visiting a compromised website or viewing an infected ad.

These downloads exploit vulnerabilities in your web browser, operating system, or applications that have not been patched or updated. They can also use social engineering techniques to lure you into visiting malicious websites or clicking on malicious links or ads.

These downloads can install various types of malware on your device, such as ransomware, keyloggers, rootkits, or botnets. These malware can encrypt your files and demand a ransom, record your keystrokes and steal your passwords, hide in your system and evade detection, or turn your device into a zombie that can be controlled by hackers.

To avoid unauthorized drive by downloads, you should keep your device and software updated and secure. Here are some tips:

  • Enable automatic updates for your web browser, operating system, and applications. This will ensure that you have the latest security patches and fixes for any known vulnerabilities.

  • Use a reputable antivirus program and firewall and keep them updated. These will help you detect and block any malicious downloads or activities on your device.

  • Avoid visiting untrusted websites or clicking on suspicious links or ads. Use a web browser that has built-in security features and pop-up blockers. You can also use a browser extension that warns you of potentially malicious websites or ads.

  • Backup your data regularly. This will help you recover your files in case of a ransomware attack or any other data loss.

Examples of Drive by Download Attacks

There are many ways that cybercriminals can launch drive by download attacks. Here are some of the most common examples:


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