I’m sure the title of this post got your attention. It gets everyone’s attention. Especially when the book is a $120 university textbook. And that’s the problem. Every term thousands of college students search the internet for free pdfs of their textbooks to save money. What follows is a huge mess and a lesson learned–nothing online is free. You pay for it, one way or another.
The latest methodology behind malware is setting up sites that appear to be legitimate free download sites. They’re not. They make you jump through a series of hoops designed to infiltrate your computer and then your bank account. Here’s how it goes:
- They require you to download their “PDF downloader”. It’s malware.
- After you download the “PDF downloader”, it hijacks your computer, closes all browsers, downloads malware, and starts several processes that last for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- When your browser is released, they pop up a new website that asks for permission to download the PDF, something you’ve already done.
- They download the PDF in a zip file which unzips everything in the file, including items other than the PDF.
- The PDF is password-protected and you are redirected to a third website that requires your credit card information and address before they will “release” the password to you.
- By now they have your email address, malware installed on your computer, and if you aren’t smart, your address and credit card number.
Here is a short list of websites that practice this particular type of crime, ones you should AVOID:
If you use a browser with parental controls, you can easily block these sites. If not, then avoid them.
Keep the internet safe by adding to this list as you find malware sites pretending to give away free PDFs of textbooks.
Originally published January 6, 2014.