What are the Different Ways Unwanted Images Can Download to Your Digital Devices?

February 9, 2023 Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

Technological advances have extremely positive impacts, like connecting people all over the world. However, there are negative side effects as well. Different forms of threats exist online and in the digital world. This can even lead to criminal offenses in the most severe cases.

This article will explain the different threats which can affect a person’s digital devices, along with how these internet threats can lead to criminal charges in Florida.

Defining Dangerous Internet Threats

Malware is short for the term malicious software. Malware is the single term used when referring to a virus, spyware, worm, etc. The type of device affected by malware is a stand-alone computer or network PC. When someone uses the term malware, it means a program that was designed to damage your digital device. Malware can come in the following forms:

  • Virus
  • Trojan
  • Worm

A Virus is a program that has been written to enter a computer or digital device and is meant to alter or damage its contents. This can include the device’s files and/or data. Once a virus is on a device, it can either corrupt or delete the device’s data.

Viruses can replicate themselves. Because of this, a computer virus is seen as being more dangerous than a computer worm. This is because a worm can only replicate itself without changing or deleting any files or data, while viruses can make serious changes or deletions.

When a virus is entered into a digital device, it can be in the form of an attached image, greeting, audio, or visual file. What makes a virus especially dangerous is that the virus can be hidden inside a “free” or “trial service” of software or other downloaded files.

It is important to note that almost all viruses are attached to an executable file. This means that the virus can’t spread without the action of a human initiating it. They may not be aware of initiating it, but running software that is infected can trigger the virus. In other words, the virus can exist on a digital device without infecting the device until the malicious program is run or opened.

Spyware is a program that sets out to collect personal information from a digital device and its users. Spyware can be downloaded with or without the owner of the device’s permission. Typically, spyware is unknowingly installed when another program or application is downloaded.

Spyware can track the user’s online habits, such as their browsing history, and send all of the user’s information to a remote user without ever knowing. In addition, spyware can download other dangerous programs and install them on the digital device.

A trojan horse is a program that may appear to be a regular application to be downloaded; however, it can be very destructive to a digital device such as a laptop, iPad, cell phone, etc. A trojan horse is not considered a virus because the program cannot replicate itself. Instead, a trojan horse opens a backdoor entry into a person’s device which then allows access to malicious programs or remote users to gain access to the device. This backdoor can cause your confidential and personal information to be stolen or transferred to other users or malicious programs.

There are different classifications of trojan horses, which are listed based on how they can infect and damage a digital device. The following list is the main seven classifications of trojan horses:

  • Remote Access Trojans
  • Data Sending Trojans
  • Destructive Trojans
  • Proxy Trojans
  • FTP Trojans
  • Security software disabler Trojans
  • Denial-of-service attack Trojans

Worms are another type of malicious program. Worms can create duplicate copies of itself repeatedly on a digital device. Instead of attaching itself to an existing program like a virus, worms work by exploiting an operating system’s vulnerabilities. Worms can take up a huge portion of hard drive space. This causes the device to slow down or be unable to consume more network bandwidth. 

Other Types of Viruses

The following is a list of other possible viruses which can infect a person’s digital device:

  • Macro Virus – Form of virus that attacks programs such as PowerPoint, Excel, Word, as well as obtaining access to other data files. After a macro virus infects a device, it can be extremely difficult to repair.
  • Master Boot Record Files – Form of virus that copies itself into the device’s storage device, typically used for partition tables or OS loading. Considered a memory-resident virus.
  • Boot Sector Virus – Another memory-resident virus, which infects the boot sector of a hard disk drive or floppy disk drive. Once infected, the virus is difficult to cleanse from a device.
  • Multipartite Virus – Type of virus that is considered a hybrid between boot and program/file viruses. That means it infects both the device program and the boot record. Once the device is “booted” the virus will then load in its memory and infect other program files and disks.
  • Polymorphic Virus – Type of virus that is difficult to detect due to its ability to encrypt its code in multiple ways.
  • Stealth Virus – A virus that can avoid detection by redirecting the disk head to read another sector. The virus can also alter the reading of the infected file’s size. Both these actions help the virus avoid detection and cause damage to devices.

Adware is a type of advertising software application. When an individual is browsing the internet, they may come across advertising banners that are displayed on the page. Even by just browsing a website, adware can automatically be downloaded and viewed through pop-up windows or displayed on the device’s screen. Companies typically use adware for marketing purposes.  

Spam is a common method to send unwanted “junk” to a user through email or commercial advertising. A person can experience “spamming” when they receive a flood of unwanted messages which are copies of the same message. While it can’t necessarily destroy a person’s device, spam mail can still be extremely annoying.

Tracking Cookies is a means of tracking a digital device user’s browsing habits. When browsing the internet, it is common for a pop-up to appear asking for the individual to either accept or deny the tracking of cookies. When a person accepts, the “cookies” stores the user’s data. This can be dangerous if companies or hackers gain access to the user’s personal information such as their social security, bank account information, or credit card details.

Misleading Applications can arise on a person’s laptop or other digital devices in the form of a “security status” regarding the device. The application may say that the device is infected by a virus or malware. The misleading application will then tell the user they must download and pay for a tool in order to fix the digital device. This can be dangerous as it is misleading, but also because it may request personal information like the user’s credit card or bank details.

How this Impacts Criminal Offenses

The dangers of viruses and malware pose many threats to a person using a digital device. In addition to the dangers of having personal information obtained through your device, there is also the unforeseen chance of unwanted videos or images being downloaded through a virus, malware, or trojan. In some cases, this can lead to a person being charged with a criminal offense.

To be more specific, a person could wind up with incriminating images and videos—such as child pornography—on their device. The unfortunate part of the advancing age of technology is the serious threats that are posed by various vulnerabilities of a person’s device. There have been several cases in which someone has been accused of possessing what is considered child pornography—and the defendant had no idea it was there on the device.

However, both the state of Florida and the federal government take all allegations of child pornography possession and distribution very seriously. Once someone has been arrested for a child pornography offense, law enforcement will most likely obtain a warrant to search the accused person’s devices. Unfortunately, if they find evidential proof that the content is on the device, police tend to assume the case is closed. However, it is possible that the user had no idea the content even existed on their device, but it was unknowingly downloaded due to viruses or malware.

Due to the nature of the offense, once a person is accused of such a crime, it can be difficult to build a defense for the case. Even if the defendant claims there is no possible way they personally downloaded or viewed the illegal content, it is much harder to prove to a jury.

One thing that can help is working with an expert witness. A skilled Tallahassee criminal defense attorney will have access to computer forensic expert witnesses that can provide a thorough search through the accused person’s devices. This can help to determine if there were any viruses or other dangerous malware which could have downloaded the incriminating content without the user’s knowledge.

This is why it is extremely important to seek out legal guidance if you or someone you love has been accused of a criminal offense. To find out more about how digital evidence can affect a child pornography criminal case, read our blog post here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

When a person is accused of a child pornography offense, there is the possibility of facing both State and Federal charges. Getting convicted of a child pornography crime can lead to lengthy prison sentences, expensive fines, and being forced to register as a sex offender for life under Florida’s Sex Offender Registry. When it comes to crimes against children, the State of Florida is likely to prosecute to the harshest of penalties. Working with an experienced defense attorney is the best way to protect yourself and your future.

Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have represented clients across Florida for various criminal offenses. Our defense attorneys will work around the clock to ensure that none of your rights are violated. We will stand by your side throughout the entire process, and provide a strategized defense for your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today and receive a free consultation regarding your case. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.

Written by Karissa Key

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