In the past, hackers could indiscriminately gain access to your computer and wreak havoc, but we responded with firewalls. Both hardware firewalls (within your router) or software firewalls (part of Windows) prevent access to our machines by unsolicited outsiders, yet allow a full two-way exchange of data when we initiate it.
Hackers had to come up with a solution to circumvent firewalls and that was to make us initiate the connection with the Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP). Click Bait and Search Engine Misdirects are two such methods.
Click Bait is a website lure which is tempting to click on. It depicts something that may pique a user’s curiosity and make them investigate further with a mouse click. Where the user may think they have clicked on an article pinpointing Elvis’ exact whereabouts, they have, in fact, clicked a “Yes, install me” button unawares.
The same risk exists when looking for something on search engines. The response to your query may be exactly what you’re looking for, but without looking closely at the associated URL, you may find yourself unintentionally visiting a high risk site with dangerous pop-ups and PUPs.
Once the user has made these erroneous forays into unknown web territory, they have often installed some type of Adware which will at very least cause their computer to run slower, and at worst, collect private information and pass it on to an undisclosed recipient.
There are generally two reasons why your hard drive activity light would be rapidly blinking or steadily lit while you’re not doing anything on your machine. One; the machine is running updates in the background, which you can confirm with methods described in my “Windows Update” blog, or Two; there are Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) running in the background.
Once again, the hard drive activity light is your friend. Pay attention to it.