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Decoding pickpockets and malware - the most dangerous online threats of 2017

Decoding pickpockets and malware

Malware attacks can seem as random as a pickpocket cleaning out your pocket in the city center – these things happen and you just happened to be there. While pickpockets are a great metaphor for cybersecurity – neither pickpockets nor malware are completely random events.

Pickpockets aren’t just taking a random walk in the park when they go to work. They have a strategy – techniques have been honed, locations’ selected, and potential victim’s picked. Different pickpockets even target specific assets as some want only cash while others look for credit cards – it’s quite similar to malware.

As many police will tell you, a few strategic steps can reduce your chances of falling prey to pickpockets, but you have to know the enemy, the risks, and their strategy – just like malware.

Avira continually tracks and blocks a wide spectrum of online pickpockets

In an eight-month period, from January to August, we’ve found four major types of online pickpockets. Each comes with its own techniques, distribution strategy, and costs to the victims. Here is a quick look at each of them.

These are the four most dangerous online #threats of 2017! #infographic



Trojans (788.761.300 detections) are malicious programs that represent themselves as routine or even helpful, but actually carry out hidden functions. Some open backdoors in the infected device. The most known Trojans these days are ransomware which encrypts a victim’s files and demands a ransom for their release.

  • Source – Trojans are spread in many ways including email attachments and infected websites.
  • Defense – Have an antivirus installed and heed the warnings. Don’t click on suspicious emails or even unusual emails from friends. Have your computer files backed up on an external drive and/or in the cloud.

Exploit kits

Exploit kits (222.860.100 detections) are a shopping list for cybercriminals. They check out potential victims’ computers for any out of date software or unpatched vulnerabilities.

  • Source – Exploit kits are found in dodgy emails and distributed via infected websites.
  • Defense – Have a software updater which will automatically keep both device and apps up-to-date. Make sure you have an effective antivirus in place.


PUA (173.091.500 detections) stands for Potentially Unwanted Apps. While usually not directly hazardous, they can rearrange your browser, alter online searches, and bring in a host of other unwanted apps to disrupt your online life.

  • Source – Download sites. Most people get hit with PUA as an unplanned addition after downloading an app online. They are often cleverly mixed into the downloading and installation processes.
  • Defense – Download carefully and uncheck the boxes unless you are sure you want it. Don’t run your device in the Admin role.


Phishing websites (131.319.600 detections) are designed to look just like the real ones from businesses such as banks and e-shops – but they’re not. Instead, these sites collect private information on their victims including email addresses and payment cards. Some phishing sites also distribute malware.

  • Source – Any site on the web.
  • Defense – Have an antivirus installed that identifies bogus sites and locks access to them such as Avira Antivirus – award-winning protection for your digital life.


Decoding pickpockets and malware - the most dangerous online threats of 2017 - in-post infographic

* Stats available for January-August 2017.

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Avira, a company with over 100 million customers and more than 500 employees, is a worldwide leading supplier of self-developed security solutions for professional and private use. With more than 25 years of experience, the company is a pioneer in its field.