How Learning What A Codec Is Can Keep You And Your Computer Safe

One of the most fascinating parts of the internet is video. We all love to watch it and some of us love to make them. That is why webcams and video cameras have been such a hot commodity all of these years. People love to be able to record themselves and then look at the video later on. And they also love to watch Hollywood based films and TV shows whenever they get the chance to. But when you are online, watching video is not always as easy as turning on the television.


When you are on the internet, you are dealing with a different beast all together. The internet was not made for people to be able to watch videos on there. So to allow that to happen, different companies had to make what are known as codecs. These codecs are protocols for the video format. They allow people to be able to watch streaming video from a server on the web. You can think of codecs as the internal video protocol to the mini program add ons of the browser that they are using. It may seem like it is part of the browser itself but it is just an integrated piece of code developed by a third party. The different plugins that have codecs inside of them are Flash, Real Player, Quicktime and many others. It is always important for you to keep these codecs updated so that not only are you able to watch the latest videos but also so that you can make sure that you are relatively secure when you have these plugins installed in the browser.

Why did I need to know what a codec was?

You might be asking yourself right now, “It is great he gave this lesson but why did I need to know it”? Well the answer is simple. There are a lot of websites which have different types of malware on them. And some of the malware on these sites either suggest that you need to download a codec to watch the video on their page or they fake a message saying that you need a codec. Instead of taking you to a site to download the codec, they instead send you to a different type of site altogether. Sometimes the site just has advertising on it and sometimes the site has actual malware ready for you to download.

Either way, a site like this can be dangerous. When you are dealing with third party codecs you never know what you are going to get. Most of the popular codecs are supported by some of the plugins that you already use. There is rarely ever a need to install one that you are not familiar with.

But maybe it is just the case that you are not familiar with the codec but it is widely known. That is why you should do a Google search before you install a plugin that is strange to you. If it is safe there is going to be information about it and people who have installed it giving some type of review. If you cannot find such information then your best bet is to just leave it alone. It is either not safe or it is too new for you to become the guinea pig. A new codec can be dangerous and cause your system to become unstable. You do not want to out your system at risk.

New codecs are sometimes needed but very rarely. Do not fall for this line of attack when you are on the web.

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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