Security Tip: Be Leery of Links in E-mail

One of the most common ways to get intrusive files, spyware, adware, worms or cookies on your computer is clicking on links in emails that take you where you didn’t know you were going. These emails are usually spam or are spoofing that the email is from your financial institution or a site you frequent and would assume legit. The senders of these type of emails are very sneaky while some are blatantly obvious.

To be safe, never click on a link that is all numbers no matter how good the offer or noble the cause may seem. A website address that is all numbers is just an IP address. E-mails only noting IP addresses are not to be trusted! Why wouldn’t the sender spend the ten bucks to have a domain name? Because they don’t want to risk being traced, that’s why!

With these sneaky emails you will see words to click on like “Click here….” or some emails have domain names as the visible text over the underlying IP number in the email code so it seems it is a site familiar to you. Careful here!

Always put your mouse over the link first!

Don’t click! Just mouse over to see what displays in the underlying code and the real site where you would be directed to. You’ll see the underlying website address in your email program or browser’s location bar at the bottom of the screen. Many times this is a bait-n-switch situation where you see a warm fuzzy domain name to click on while the underlying code will take you to locations unknown.

Before clicking on any email links:

  • Never click on links within in an email unless you know the person who is sending you that email and are 100% confident the link is what it says it is. Be just as cautious with forwards from irresponsible forwarders as well as they unknowingly perpetrate scams in their zeal to forward.
  • Unless you recognize the link as a reply to a specific request for information (website request, newsletter, ezine, etc.), click with caution.
  • Do not click on IP numbers in email.
  • Do not click on URLs from those who you are not absolutely positive are the sites you can trust — even if they say they are.
  • Always mouse-over a link in an email to see if the underlying URL matches the clickable text.

Just a little thought before clicking on embedded email links can save you a bunch of unnecessary trouble — and headaches!

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