Good rule of thumb on the web: When it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Those ads on the right side of your web page, promising to give you a brand new iPad for absolutely free…probably a scam. The direct message on Twitter you received stating that you can make thousands of dollars each month from home, “just click to find out more,” you’d do best to ignore. And that email containing a surprising $200 gift card just for you is almost certainly from a hacker looking to get your personal information.
Researchers recently unveiled their findings on a nasty phishing email that lures you in with the promise of a $200 Apple Store Gift Card but instead delivers malware that can be used to take over your device. What’s unique about this phishing email is that they are using both a file attachment and a link to lure you into taking the bait.
Once the link is clicked or the attachment is opened, the malware goes to work on your device. With the malware installed, hackers can gain access to your device and whatever data you have on it. This stolen data is usually used for any number of cybercrimes including identity theft.
So what can you do to protect yourself from “phishy” messages—be it text, email, social media or on chat? An unknown link through any of these could be delivering a nasty virus onto your computer or mobile phone. Here are a few tips to keep you and your personal data in the clear.
- Don’t take the bait from hackers and cyber spammers. Just like mom used to say, “don’t take candy from strangers,” the same thinking applies. If you don’t recognize the name of the sender, don’t accept the gift. It very well might be too good to be true.
- Make sure links leads to where they claim. Don’t click on links or attachments in emails from people that you don’t know or from senders that you’re not expecting—this is true on both your personal computer and smartphone.
- One way to check on your personal computer: hover over the link with your mouse. A bubble will pop up that informs you of where the link leads. If you see a different name from where the email claims to originate, just don’t go there.
- Frequently change your passwords. Changing your passwords often is like making yourself a moving target online. Hackers will have a more difficult time catching you in their nets.
- Use comprehensive software to protect your entire online experience. McAfee LiveSafe™ service not only protects all of your devices, identity and your data, it offers a safe search tool to warn you before you visit any risky sites, and a password manager for a single click login on any site across all of your devices.
Don’t let yourself become a fish in a barrel when it comes to hackers and online scams.