Be cautious of links or attachments that are in emails or newsletters or jokes that are in email chains or that someone forwards to you because they thought it was cute or funny or amusing videos to watch, etc.
- Would-be identity thieves sometimes use this method to confirm that they have a valid
email address. When you click on the link or attachment, you confirm that your email address is valid and most likely moved your email address to the “to be sold” list.
- Viruses or worms can be launched into your computer when you click on the link/attachment because virus/worm instructions are imbedded in the “execute” command of the link/attachment.
- My Mother sent a joke to me that she had received from someone and she thought I’d enjoy seeing it. I checked the link before launching it and found out that it had a virus in it. I called her to let her know about the virus; however, the damage had already been done on her computer. She had no idea it had a virus in the link.
How do you check a link?
- Copy the entire URL (AKA: AKA Universal Resource Locator – or link address), open a web browser such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or whatever you use, and paste the link into the search window and press ENTER. By doing this, even if a virus is imbedded, it will not be launched into your computer.
- If the link has a title rather than the ‘www.nameofcompany.com’, you can RIGHT click with your mouse on the link and choose “copy hyperlink” and then paste that into the search window and press ENTER.
- Although you will not launch a virus into your computer by doing it this way because adware and other types of threats are not always inside the ‘execute’ file, you can still launch these malicious problems into your computer.
An even better way to check the safety of a URL is to use Norton SafeWeb because although a virus will not be launched into my computer by copying a URL into a search window, it still can launch adware and other types of threats. You can remove that threat by pasting the link into the Norton SafeWeb search window and Norton immediately provides details about if there are computer threats, identity threats, or annoyance factors.
ON A SIDE NOTE: before you pass along a chain email to others (so they can also get the great deal, too!), find out if it really is true or just another way that would-be thieves are collecting not only your email address but also those of people to whom you forward those emails. Do you remember the one that went around saying that Applebee’s was giving away free meals? I checked it in Snopes, which is an Internet reference source, and found it to be totally false. If you receive an email about some newfound gimmick. Snopes will tell you if it’s TRUE or FALSE.
TASK: Open both Norton SafeWeb and Snopes and save them to your favorites so they will be easily available to you every time you want to use them.
Did you find this information useful or helpful? Do you have other references that you would like to share? Please leave a comment so I can include appropriate information in updates that I send in newsletters or in my blogs.