The Cost Of Free SVG Files - Malware, Viruses and Identity Theft

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We all love collecting all of those wonderful free SVG files, but are they really free? Well....not exactly. I spend way too much time on Facebook and I'm a member of many cutting machine Facebook groups. Cricut, Sizzix, Silhouette, you name it! This weekend, I ran into an interesting post where a Cricut user was faced with a suspicious pop-up asking her to take a survey in exchange for a "free gift" of some sort. After doing some research on the pop-up, I discovered that it was in fact a Virus.

dearcricut-user

You can read more about the virus here: http://blog.mitechmate.com/congratulations-you-won-com-virus-removal/

This wasn't the first time I've seen an issue like this. Since I provide all of the customer support for SVGCuts, I perform remote support on dozens of customer machines on a weekly basis and on occasion I do find symptoms of malware and viruses. How did they get there? I can't say for sure since I wasn't there at the exact moment that the user contracted it, but it's there and the users are on the fast track to some potentially devastating and costly issues. And I can't say if there was a connection between this virus and one of the peer to peer sharing sites I'll discuss below, but thanks to this user, I decided it was time to help everyone understand where the potential threats are coming from.

Before Mary and I started SVGCuts in 2009, I spent my entire professional career doing IT and Help Desk support for companies like Chrysler, USRobotics and Sharp Electronics just to name a few. I also ran my own computer repair company for a few years and I know first-hand that when you're infected, the odds of getting the virus or spy/malware completely off of your system is very slim unless you format your computer and reinstall windows or perform a system restore. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but its near impossible to know exactly where the virus embeds itself in your system. The key is prevention. Don't get infected in the first place!

Why are Viruses, Spyware and Malware Dangerous and Costly?

  • Spyware, Malware and/or Viruses are portals for keylogging technology. Keylogging is a malicious application that captures your key strokes and sends them to the hacker. All of those passwords you're typing, yep... if your computer is infected with a keylogger, this information is being sent to someone that can use the information to gain access to your online accounts. This is a precursor to Identity Theft.
  • Viruses, Spyware and Malware degrade your computer performance and internet browsing speeds. Once you've contracted a virus, spyware or malware, you can try to use your Antivirus software to scan and remove it. You may also need to download some Anti-spyware software, although many Antivirus programs come equipped to handle malware and spyware by default.
  • If your Anti-virus can't remove the virus, adware or spyware, you'll need to take your computer in to a computer repair place (Geek Squad etc) to have it cleaned up and possibly formatted and reinstalled.

How To Protect Yourself

  • If you're running Windows XP, upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.
  • 5% of SVGCuts users are still running Windows XP even though it is end of life and is no longer receiving security updates.
  • Keep your browsers up to date.
  • Keep your Anti-virus up to date. New malware, spyware and viruses are released everyday. Being one day behind on updates will leave you susceptible to infection.
  • Get an Anti-virus program like Webroot or Norton Anti Virus.
  • Get a Mac. Even though they aren't completely immune to contracting viruses, spyware or malware, they are generally safer.
  • Download files from sources that you trust only.
  • Scan all of your downloads before unzipping or opening them.

Sources of Malware, Spyware, Viruses and Potential Identity Theft

We're not saying that every file on the sites listed below is infected. We're simply stating that it's HIGHLY possible. If you're going to contract anything, it'll happen on the sites below. Check out the article on Norton.com for even more info (click here) and another one on Netsecurity.com (click here).

  • Drop Box (see article about trojan viruses on Drop Box. Click here)
  • Media Fire
  • 4 Shared
  • Box
  • Rapid Share
  • Uploaded
  • Free Font Websites

Leo Kowal

What About Files From SVGCuts? Are They Safe?

Yes. We control our web server (its completely dedicated and belongs to us). We create and place the files there and we secure our site and scan it regularly for malware, spyware, adware and viruses. Even our free files are safe because we don't use peer to peer file sharing (DropBox, 4Shared etc) to make them accessible to you. They are located safely on our servers and are delivered to you directly using HTTP.


31 Responses to “The Cost Of Free SVG Files - Malware, Viruses and Identity Theft”

  1. Karen W August 11, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for posting this and thanks for confirming that you are indeed a safe site. From viewing your videos and articles, I definitely see that you are a top knotch site with Customer satisfaction as a top priority. I rarely download freebies because of the reason you noted in your article. But I have downloaded your freebies! Thanks for taking care of us crafters

  2. Debbie August 11, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Thanks for the info. I have seen so many free svgs offered online and in forums but have to date not downloaded anything but from trusted sites, especially yours.

    Thanks for looking out for us all.

  3. LeslieZee August 11, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Thank you Leo. This is all very good advice. I’m a dropbox user myself to share photos and files with family and friends. Is that safe or can files I add become infected after I add them to dropbox – assuming they were healthy when I uploaded them.

    • SVGCuts August 11, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      From what I’ve read, they’re not necessarily safe depending on your security settings on DropBox.

  4. Marilyn August 11, 2014 at 9:28 am #

    Great article Leo! Some things are just to good to be true. We must be careful during our travels out in internet world.

  5. Carole August 11, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    Leo you are the best. Sharing your knowledge and education is a gift to us all…along with all of Mary’s creative ideas the two of you make a fabulous team. Thanks for all you do and all you share. You will always prosper. Fondly…Carole, a fan from the start.

  6. sandie scott August 11, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Thank you, Leo. good information for your users to have.

  7. Carole August 11, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    I forgot to mention you’re integrity and customer service beyond expectation. Quality that even Martha Stewart acknowledges.

  8. Leslie Loutit August 11, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Thanks for looking into this particular problem and posting about it. I don’t have a cutting machine as yet,well yes I do I have the cricut expression but it does nothing like you can do with the other cutting machine,lol,but anyway I love reading your blog all the time and watching to see what kits you are coming out with, Each one amazes me. Thanks SVG cuts for staying on top of things.

  9. Renee DeSchane August 11, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Thank you so very much for keeping on top of things for us. You guys are the BEST!

  10. Diane Fortune Potter August 11, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    Great information – thanks so much – love your cut files!

  11. Diane Wininger August 11, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Thanks for the article Leo. Even though we all try to be careful as it takes is one single moment when you’re not paying full attention…and ZAP! Love your sight and all your projects are amazing. Thank you to you and Mary.

  12. Ann DeHart August 11, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Thank you so much for posting this information, Leo. Yours is the only site from which I purchase svgs. I am a relative newbie to svg files and their use is rampant on Facebook and elsewhere. It bothers me greatly that people are blindly downloading free images without being mindful of the dangers you so eloquently presented. “Free” usually comes with a price; why don’t people understand that? Thanks again for sharing this message…

  13. Lisa August 11, 2014 at 11:25 am #

    Great post Leo!I use to be a volunteer at geekstogo and helped folks with malware removal. They’re a great group of folks that help the home user with tech issues. And……

    READ THOSE POPUPS! Don’t just click click click to get it out of your way! LOL

    Funny you should say something about XP and end of life…I received an update over the weekend and it was end of life for my computer, the dang hard drive crashed! I don’t know for sure that the update did it but find it strange that I had no issues and then the update, 4 blue screens of death and then hard drive failure all within a 24 hour period from the time of the update. My dad would argue that they did it on purpose so I would update XP! LOL

    I’m just happy I had all of my SVG files on an external hard drive and actually backed it up to the computer! I did have some pictures, iPhone backups and software that might be lost but I won’t know for sure until I slave the hard drive to another computer and see. Crossing my fingers on that one!

  14. Kris August 11, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Thanks, Leo! I wish you were my personal IT guy! :-)

  15. SylviaF August 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Thanks Leo, that explains why every time I try to download DropBox Norton removes it! I could not understand it as so many people seem to use DropBox these days.

  16. Pam August 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Its really sad that this is happening. We just want to craft! I do have a Mac with viruse protection on it. Guess I want to be safe.
    Thanks for what you guys do!!!
    Pam

  17. Linda from Arizona August 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    I have had problems downloading fonts and so far have been able to neutralize/get rid of any threat but it isn’t worth it. So I am very careful. I have Windows Vista which my friend says is called Vista Virus! I can’t afford to upgrade to Windows 7 but I wish I could. Thanks for this great post. In this day and age we have to be so careful because there are so many creeps out there.

  18. Bridget Lolar August 11, 2014 at 3:18 pm #

    Thank you so much for posting. I am so super paranoid about what comes onto my computer. I took a nice deep sigh of relief when I saw you mention Norton. That is what I have and it updates regularly.

    Thanks for the information!!

  19. Gail Gill August 11, 2014 at 3:23 pm #

    Very nice article. Thank you. A friendly reminder is always welcome.

  20. Catherine August 11, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Thank you for the heads up I have recently downloaded some freebies. I am running a Malware program as I type this and will avoid from now on.

  21. Judy Hartmann August 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Thank you so much for this info. Always knew SVGCuts is the best in everything!

  22. Mary Hair August 11, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

    i have been buying your designs for a long time. you even talkjed to me on the phone once to help with my downloading problems. You and Mary are so talented, but also helpful

    Thank you so much for all of your help!

    Keep up the good work!1
    Mary

    i look forward evry week to see what you have come up with next

  23. Julie August 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    Thank you so very much, Leo. Learning new things about virus and malware and such is very interesting. And good to know!

  24. Christine Muehlbauer August 11, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Thank you so much Leo, this was VERY informative to me. I will admit that I “THOUGHT” I was somewhat savvy about this subject; however, I was wrong I suppose. I do in fact utilize Drop Box,and guess what??? I use it as a back-up for my SVG Cuts files only (and I have a lot of them). I am going to look into this more in depth this coming weekend, and possibly back-up my files through a different venue. Thank you very much, Chris <3

  25. Patricia A Paola August 11, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Thank you for giving us some eye opening information, it is truly appreciated. Especially, for those of us who only know/use the basics of computing…even though, having used it for many years.

  26. Robin August 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Thanks, Leo.

  27. Diane Thoomes August 12, 2014 at 1:48 am #

    Thank you so much for this information :-)

  28. Phyllis Muscolino August 12, 2014 at 4:42 am #

    Thanks so much Leo. I never gave that a thought. Going to uninstall Dropbox right now. My Cameo is humming away cutting out your files.

  29. DIANA L. August 12, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    Great article Leo–
    Thanks for watching out for us — Your the “BEST” oops — I just noticed everyone else said that to — oh well it is true
    Hugs DIANA L.( to both of you)

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