Ahh, the holidays...lazing around, eating well, spending time with loved ones. But then January had to come around, and get us all active and vigilant again. So here’s what tlook for based on last year’s trends: and how to protect yourself in 2019.

1. Malvertising

Let's start off easy

A hacker creates an infected ad. Said hacker then spreads it to as many websites as possible. You, amongst other innocent fans of 3D sculpture, happen to be on one of those websites. Result? You fall victim. What you probably didn’t know: you don’t even have to click on the ads. Just loading the site delivers an unwanted infection.

What does malvertising do?

The infection (see above). This can cause all sorts of mayhem like viruses, spyware, and more. Here's a pretty comprehensive guide to malvertising, for your reading pleasure. 

Prepare yourself in 2019

Since 2018 has seen a rise in ad-blocking tools and software, 2019 should have even more sophisticated ad-blocking tools from your to choose from. All you really need to do, is download a good ad blocker. Again, we have a guide. 

2. Botnets

The one for megalomaniacs

Simply put, this is when a hacker creates nasty malware that enslaves thousands upon thousands of smart devices (your PC included) in order to get the processing power to do some greater evil. What you probably didn’t know: you might not even notice.

What does being part of a botnet do?

Make your PC run slower. Give you other types of malware. Make you feel ashamed: normally it comes with spyware or ransomware. But the wider picture: your PC could be unknowingly working to attack websites or networks, steal passwords, social security numbers, credit card details, addresses and phone numbers of innocent people around the world. Eeek.

Prepare yourself in 2019

In 2016, botnets made up 33% of all detected malware. In 2018, botnets made up 78%! Not surprising when you think about all the new IoT stuff we’re making every year. But here’s what you do: first, update your devices passwords and use anti-malware to regularly check for infections. Second, search for your IP address in a specific attack if you’re suspicious (here’s a page), and third, use a free network analysis tool such as Wireshark or Snort to monitor your Internet traffic for unusual activity.

3. Cryptomining

Money, money, money

Hackers do a lot of nasty stuff, but often they do it with one goal in mind: makin’ money. And thanks to cryptomining, they’ve been able to cut out the middleman and simply turn your computer into a money-generating machine.

What does cryptomining do?

Once a hacker tricks you into installing a cryptominer, they’ll rob your PC of its valuable processing power, instead forcing it to mine for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. This slows your computer to a crawl and eats up your electric bill. Not cool. 

Prepare yourself in 2019

Thanks to the direct money-making possibilities and the fact that they’re harder to detect than most malware, cryptominers skyrocketed in popularity in 2018. Of course, if the value of cryptocurrency drops too low, hackers will probably give up on cryptomining and take up something more profitable again... but here at AVG we like to be a little more proactive than that. Two pro tips for you: make sure your antivirus is up and running, and disable JavaScript in your browser.  

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