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The 17 most dangerous places on the internet

They're not the usual suspects... you may be surprised

The scariest sites on the net? They're not the ones you might suspect. Here's what to watch for and how to stay safe, in our list of the 17 scariest places on the internet.

What happens when you surf unprotected

11:45: I start the experiment with a pristine, clean PC running Windows Vista.

11:55: I need to check my email. I download what appears to be a résumé file. Strange, I'm not hiring. I open it anyway. My screen flickers a little, but nothing starts. Hmm...

12:00: I start poking around on the web, and start out easy. I run a Google search for free smilies, and sure enough, I find some. Who am I to refuse?

12:29: A couple smiley packs later, I am up to three browser toolbars. Junkware, but no malware...yet.

12:41: I download some random freebie antivirus software I've never heard of. Let's see what this does...

12:48: More random downloads, and my desktop is getting junked up. I now have icons for free games and 1000 free songs littered all over, plus more browser toolbars than I care to have.

12:55: IE is hating me right now. Still no signs of malware, but something's sure eating up system resources.

13:03: My PC locks up for a few moments.

13:25: After a restart, Windows throws up a warning about a program at C:\Users\PCW\AppData\Roaming\host32.exe. I have no idea what it is.

13:40: I think I killed IE. I can't launch it. Malware? But I uninstall a couple of toolbars, and it seems to work again.

15:00: It's unclear whether I've gotten infected by anything on the web, but so far I haven't done anything too terribly risky. However, I've got to check my email again; I'm expecting an important file from a friend.

15:05: Whoops. I think I clicked on the wrong file. I've got fake antivirus!

15:25: I now have three or four fake antivirus programs running. Malware has also planted three shortcut links to porn sites on my desktop. And whenever I open something in IE, a fake antivirus app kicks in with a fake warning.

16:13: Something just forced my PC to shut down and restart. I think I've successfully hosed this computer.

NEXT PAGE: Tips from the pros

  1. They're not the usual suspects
  2. Torrent sites
  3. Your smartphone
  4. Malicious PDFs
  5. Fake antivirus software
  6. 'Free electronics' sites
  7. What happens when you surf unprotected
  8. Tips from the pros

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