How to Protect your Devices from a PDF Virus

Are you trying to download a PDF file but are getting a security threat warning, which makes you curious to find out whether a PDF can have a virus? Well, in this article we will consider and provide a valid answer to the question, “can a PDF have a virus.”

A PDF is the most used file format required for sending documents including schools, offices, banks, etc. This makes it easy to be a target for scammers. can a PDF have a virus

Can A PDF Have A Virus

A virus can be added to a PDF by adding malicious code to the software that the file itself contains. 

Although a PDF is a harmless file but can be used to create security threats just like an email, Bitcoin. dot-com files, JPGs.

A virus can be hidden within a PDF in form of email downloads or attachments included in eBooks and other documents. So that once the file is downloaded and opened the virus or malicious code will manoeuvre its way into the targeted device.

How Do I Remove a Virus From a PDF?

You can do less with a PDF with a virus if you are using an anti-virus or your Windows Defender is turned on before you downloaded the PDF file with malicious codes. However, if you have downloaded the infected PDF file the only solution is to remove it manually.

Therefore, we will consider the steps to take to remove a PDF file that has been infected by a virus in the next section of this article.

Run Virus Scan

Downloading files from an un-trusted source can cause your device to be at risk. To avoid issues ensure you only download files from a trusted and reliable source.

The most effective way to check if your PDF file contains viruses is to run a virus scan on your device. Although most operating systems including Windows and Mac OS often have built-in antivirus software viruses may still get way past this security system.

There are various ways to check if a PDF contains a virus. You should install a third-party antivirus such as a malware byte, avast antivirus, or Norton360 antivirus to run a proper scan.

You can decide to purchase a full service or use free antivirus software. You can check your entire computer, multiple files, or separate files at a time. You should ensure to choose an option depending on how many PDFs you need to check.

How Hackers Inject Viruses into a PDF File

Literally, a PDF file is not supposed to contain a virus except if the source is infected with one. However, hackers can decide to inject viruses into the PDF file before sharing it across the internet.

So, we will briefly discuss various ways dubious developer do use to inject malicious codes into a PDF file format.

Phishing Attempts

Phishing is a type of social engineering scam and it often comes in form of an email. A hacker can send an email with an attachment to your inbox.

This attachment can be in form of a PDF file that you can download and may contain viruses. If you receive any suspicious emails that impersonate an organization, don’t interact with such emails. Ensure you confirm it’s the authenticity of that email to stay protected.

Malicious Scripts in PDFs

PDFs can contain hidden JavaScript codes to display the current date and date, add print buttons, format data, etc. This way hackers can add malicious code to PDF files exposing them to security threats.

Using trusted PDF software is one of the best ways you can defend against PDF viruses. Making sure your PDF reader is up to date can help to combat these viruses and help to protect users. We recommend installing an Adobe Acrobat reader on your device. It features regular security updates.

Fake Click-bait Books

At times PDF files can come in form of eBooks that you can be downloaded on the internet. While searching for a specific book on the internet you may come across these malicious download links.

The hacker can make the book like the original book that you are searching for on the internet. This eBook may contain links to a paid site with pirated content that may end up downloading a virus.

I Opened A Suspicious PDF On My Phone

If you opened a suspicious PDF on your phone you should use an antivirus to get rid of the virus. You can perform a virus scan with an antivirus such as McAfee and Norton, or get free file scanning with software such as Bitdefender, Avira, or Avast.

Follow these steps to perform a virus scan with Avast antivirus :

  • Open Avast Antivirus.
  • Go to Protection > Virus Scans.
  • Tap the Scan tile.
  • Choose the file you want to scan.
  • Tap Open.
  • Wait till the scan is completed.
  • Move the detected files to quarantine by hovering the cursor and clicking Resolve.

You can also try the drag-and-drop feature of Avira Antivirus. To scan a PDF with Avira Antivirus:

  • Open Avira Antivirus.
  • Click Virus Scans.
  • Drag and drop the file in the Custom Scan tile.

Tips to Protect Your Device From PDF Virus

You should always stay alert to protect your devices from viruses and related scripts or codes. With that, you wouldn’t have to worry about your devices. Well, without much ado below are the most recommended way to protect your devices from PDF files

Scan a PDF for viruses on a PC

If you have windows 10 or windows 11 installed on your PC, you can turn on Microsoft Defender Antivirus to automatically detect threats:

  • Right-click the file or folder.
  • Select Scan with Microsoft Defender.
  • Follow the instructions that appear for the Scan options.

Disable Javascript in the PDF reader

PDF readers are designed to be able to execute Javascript codes. Disabling Javascript code will prevent malicious codes from running when you open the PDF reader.

If your PDF reader says preview primarily to view PDFs. Then your PDF reader doesn’t support Javascript. But if you use Adobe Acrobat reader, follow these steps:

  • Open Adobe Reader/Acrobat.
  • In the toolbar at the top, click Adobe Reader/Acrobat > Preferences.
  • Then, in the sidebar, select JavaScript.
  • Uncheck Enable Acrobat JavaScript

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