Can you get a virus on YouTube? Find out here!
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Can my device get infected with a virus through the YouTube platform?
Not many people ask this question and it’s a mistake. If viruses do exist, it makes perfect sense that Youtube is the place to be to catch one! The site has over a billion users. There are plenty of opportunities for hackers and cybercriminals to earn huge sums of money by stealing your data and infecting your devices.
You are unlikely to get infected by watching videos but there are real dangers nonetheless. Cybercriminals can trick you into clicking a link that will cause malware to be installed on your devices. Falling into this kind of Machiavellian trap is much easier than you might think. Parents should note that YouTube is very popular with tweens and teens. Children are tech-savvy but also naive and very curious. Protecting your devices from viruses on YouTube means you need to educate your kids about the dangers and warning signs. Inappropriate content and viruses go hand in hand so parental controls can help mitigate the risk. Here is some help.
Avoid clicking on links in video descriptions
Links to malicious websites may be located in the descriptions of YouTube videos. While most links will take you to real, legitimate sites, some will send you to places where your system will be secretly infected with unwanted software.
One common scam targets people looking for full versions of their favorite movies. Children are especially vulnerable because the promise of watching their favorite Disney movie can cause them to click anything. It’s best to give your kids the following advice: “Never click on these links, at least not without checking with me first.”
Beware of the comments section on YouTube
Links to malicious sites are also hidden in the comments of YouTube videos. Cybercriminals offer additional video content with a link. After the user clicks on the link, they are prompted to update their video player or other software. The “update” is actually a virus or other malware. The best advice to protect your children is to turn off comments (see below).
Video ads can fool you
Video ads can also direct you to dangerous places. Opportunistic hackers use botnets to infect thousands of devices. This botnet turns your computer into an automated zombie programmed to watch videos, use your electricity, your computer’s processing power, and wear it down to the core. Oftentimes, the botnet plays the videos in mute mode, so you don’t even know it’s happening.
Activate YouTube Restricted Mode
YouTube lets you control what your kids are watching with a setting called “Restricted Mode”. This setting hides all videos with titles, descriptions and other information that contains outdated or inappropriate content. Better yet, enabling the Restricted Mode hides the comments section. Thus, your child will not see malicious links or questionable content.
Download the YouTube Kids app
Overall, YouTube does a good job at recommending and filtering age-appropriate content but no system is foolproof. The YouTube Kids app gives you even more parental control over what your child is watching. It closes even more doors leading to cybercriminals. These features are worth a look:
Deactivate the search feature
You can turn off the search feature so that your child can’t secretly search for things that they shouldn’t be looking at.
You can turn off the “recommended videos” feature. It is very easy to fall into the spiral of endless recommendations for children. If they keep watching videos for a long time, they might come across something that you don’t want them to see or that they shouldn’t click.
Ads on YouTube Kids are all paid and verified. They are safer and more likely to come from legitimate companies.