Last week, this quick conversation happened in my house:
“Babe, did you send me a link on Messenger?”
“Yep, go ahead.”
There was an ease to it, because we were in the same house, just a room away from each other, my husband working on his computer and me working on mine. He doesn’t send links often, so it was strange to receive one, and I checked before opening it. Then he said, loudly enough for our three kids doing school work to hear, “see what Mom did? Never open a link without checking. It’s not worth destroying your device or losing your data.”
You should know by now that links can contain code that will send you to a malicious web site, can open your computer to a virus, and can send you to a phishing site. There are enough articles on the web telling you how to identify if a link is not what it purports to be. If you are already part of the subset of people who doesn’t click on links, or checks them before clicking, or understands that sometimes a video is a link in disguise, this article is not really for you.
And when I say “sometimes a video is a link in disguise, this is a great example. Notice this image. At the top, notice that it reads “… forwarded a link.” If you were to actually send a video, Facebook Messenger would have read “… forwarded a video.” This “video,” by the way, was malware and was sent to me about 10 times by 10 different people. None of them knew they sent it. They just opened it, and it sent itself while collecting their data.
But there is a subset of users out there who are never going to examine a link, never going to go to a site to see where a shortened link points to, and never going to do anything beyond looking to see if a friend sent it and then open it.
And for those people, I want you to know, that with love, and concern, for your device protection and your identity protection and your data protection:
DON’T CLICK ON LINKS.
Don’t click on links, or videos that came in through your Messenger App, or through your text messenger, or through email. I know. I know we’re living through Covid and clicking on videos when it looks like your friend says you’re in the video is really appealing, but that video is malware. Don’t click.
But what about this one? Surely Snoopy and Woodstock mean me no harm!
Notice again that this is a forwarded link. Do we click on links? No we do not.
Can you be trusted to check with your friend every time to make sure that he or she really sent you the link?
How about if your bank sent you something in your email that says you MUST log in through the link they are sending you RIGHT NOW to fix a problem? NO. Don’t Click. Call the bank. Go to the web site through the bank’s URL. DO NOT CLICK.
Here’s a real example that was sent to us last week. Would you click?
FedEX doesn’t send messages like this. But even if you think they do send messages like this, Don’t Click. Is it worth it to your data? Can you see your package update in another way? Don’t Click. If you are expecting a package, you know how to find out where it is. Go to the FedEx web site with your package information.
There were a lot of things that I could have chosen to write about today, and I could have gotten much deeper into this subject. But the fact is, I have relatives and friends who are still clicking on malware links (and by links, I mean links and links that are disguised as videos or images), and I know it because then I receive the links/videos/images in Facebook Messenger or Facebook feed or my messaging app.
So if you’re reading this and you, too have a relative or friend who is putting their identity or data or equipment at risk, please point them to this article, and Tell Them that you’re doing it, so that they know it’s safe to click through.