Why would an exploit not be caught or detected by my antivirus program (Avast) or Malwarebytes (running in the background)? If not detectable, how much “damage” can the exploit actually do if users follow prudent operating precautions? Would System Restore be usable if infected? I have also followed your advice and routinely image my Dell laptop.
We need to clear up a little terminology, but your question is a very good one: how can malware get past anti-malware programs to infect the software installed on your machine?
And more importantly, what can you do to protect yourself?
Let’s define some terms with what I’m thinking is my silliest metaphor ever, and then talk about how to stay safe.
I recently ran Microsoft Safety Scan, which identified a Java exploit. Are Java exploits a dangerous threat or do they merely function as a tool allowing hackers to infect your computer with malicious software? If the computer is otherwise clean, there’s no reason to worry that the computer has been compromised, right?
The issue here is that the term “exploit” really isn’t clear. In the industry, it ends up being used somewhat ambiguously to mean a couple of things. That can be frustratingly vague.
So, I’ll throw out two definitions of exploit for you.