Google images can be the ideal tool for searching for pictures, logos, and lots of graphics information. This service is available to anyone as long as you are connected to the internet and access Google. To access Google image, you have to type in the right keywords and then run through your search results to choose the right image you are looking for. Some users have reported download malware attacks, especially hidden in executable malicious codes. Google seems to have dealt efficiently with such issues.
So, Can You Get Virus from Google Images
Yes, if you click the image and not when you view it as a thumbnail because Google has re-encoded its graphic images; hence, you will be connected to Google directly and not a malicious site.
Can You Get A Virus From Google Images?
The likelihood of getting a virus from Google images will depend on how you use the feature. When you search for an image, for instance, Google will bring search results out, and the images will initially appear as thumbnails. Initially, you will see not the original images but thumbnails from the Google server. If you download an image preview, you should get any malicious attack. The situation may be different if you left-click on the image because this is the point a virus threat can occur.
When you click on a Google image, it will enlarge and appear inside a black frame, while similar image results will be shown at the bottom. Since you are left-clicking the image, you will retrieve it directly from the host website, and this can expose your device to virus or any other malicious attacks.
Another way your device may be prone to virus attacks is when you visit the website page or click on the full image option. All these steps will make you travel through the image’s page. For this reason, you need to be careful when clicking on Google images.
Some people say you may not likely get a virus from Google images because Google checks all images before archiving them. Google will likely exclude photos from websites that contain malicious threats like virus, which means you wouldn’t see them and you wouldn’t click on them.
The reality here is that Google will scan images from all websites once and wouldn’t repeat the process while crawling and displaying website photos. If the source of an image is altered on the website, it will remain a legitimate file in Google’s archives. Sometimes, the website hosting an image may become a victim of hacking, and the website’s administrators may be unaware of malicious images on their sites.
What Happens When You Click On Virus-Infected Image?
When you click on a hacked Google image on a third-party website, you will be redirected to the wrong URL instead of the original image source; hence you will end up downloading a malicious image.
According to research conducted by HuffPost, there are at least 5,000 hacked websites online, and these websites draw more than 500,000 viewers daily. One thing that makes this attack more lethal is that the hackers know where and who to target.
Hackers often explore and target celebrity images meme trends, even the latest or breaking news items and images- these are images that most online users love to click instantly without suspicion.
Hackers may also use Google scripts to scan through the queries necessary to update content and rank images and other contents.
How Images Come With Virus
Since images often come in graphical formats like JPEG, PNG, and WEBP, images cannot theoretically contain virus because images don’t come with executable codes. Hackers, especially those with programming skills, have devised several means of including a virus in images, and these include the following;
1. Link Submersion Techniques
Hackers can distribute images with embedded links, the same strategy used in sending phishing emails to unsuspecting individuals to download. While many have device means of avoiding scam emails, we hardly do images.
The link submersion tactic is often used by spammers who try to lure unsuspecting victims through product advertisements. When we click these images, we automatically run spyware on our PCs. It would be best if you were careful of free downloadable images; even lawful sites may provide such free services.
2. Double File Extension Strategy
Another way fraudsters infect images is to use double extensions for files. In this case, the programmer will write a file of JPEG format but with an exe or VBS. Extension, hence the file may appear to be a picture, but in a real sense, it is a code. This means the image will have a jpg.exe extension, and the exe is an executable code that runs automatically on your computer once you click on the image.
The worst part of this strategy is that it creates a wonderful picture, and you may not realize it has become active in your computer’s operating system.
3. The Steganography Strategy
Steganography is another way of introducing a virus infection through an image to your device. This is a strategy where a website embeds a piece of phony information within an image. The info may look innocent but will display more than an image once clicked.
This strategy is undetectable virtually until you run the image through a special application. The malicious code is hidden in the smallest of the bits that make up the image. The changes made to the image as a result of the malicious information will be insignificant; hence your eyes may not detect it. Sometimes, the hidden malicious information may not execute anything by itself until you click on it. In some cases, another program on your device can process the malicious data.
Avoiding Virus-infected Google Images
You don’t have to give up on Google images; your approach to such images should depend on the types of photos you search for and why you need them. If you need images to include in commercial projects, blog posts, and art projects, you should rather purchase relevant images from reputable sources. Doing this can protect you from the embedded virus in images and copyright infringement issues.
If, on the other hand, you are exploring the internet for images to use for personal stuff, then Google images may be the better option. It is also important that you take extra precautions when searching and clicking celebrity images online. The best possible ways of avoiding virus-infected Google images are;
1. Update Your Device Web Browser Constantly
One thing you should know is that a highly-secured web browser will not automatically run embedded links or viruses in Google images or images on any other website, for that matter. An updated web browser will always ask for your permission to click an image, and it wouldn’t redirect you automatically to untrusted websites. The browser will send you a notification instantly before directing you.
If there are auto pop-ups of suspicious links, your web browser should block them automatically or warn you about the dangers of clicking such links. With an updated web browser, images containing malicious links should not harm your device.
2. Check the Image Origin
Never be in a hurry to open Google images or images from any other website. In most cases, the image itself may not cause the virus infection but the website is holding it. For this reason, you need to check a website’s reliability before clicking on any image or link on it.
Also, you must keep in mind that the top-most ranked websites on Google are not necessarily the most reliable ones. Fraudsters can always use fraudulent SEO techniques to get their websites to the top of search engines. If you doubt the integrity of any website, don’t take the risks of viewing its images. You may want to use an online resource that ranks websites based on their integrity.
3. Add NoScript Extension to Your Browser
It is important that you protect yourself from malicious images you discover on Google. In addition to the options highlighted above, you may also want to change your computer’s Windows settings. When you change your operating system settings, all file extensions attached to images will be displayed in addition to the first extensions. With this, you can easily discover images that come with fake extensions in addition to their first extensions. The second extension is normally a coded virus link. In addition to changing your Windows operating system setting, you may want to turn on your Windows Update because that can send you notifications instantly to prevent virus attacks.