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Think Before You Click

Everything is just a click away in cyberspace.   A hyperlink is a phrase, word, or an image found in web pages and emails that can be clicked on to go to another page or section. Hyperlinks are usually underlined and in a different color to distinguish themselves from other text.  For example, Click Here and Visit Our Website are popular hyperlinks.

However, the words in these hyperlinks do not tell you what the destination web pages will be once you click on them.  Cyber criminals know this and have used the text in hyperlinks to take unsuspecting users to malicious websites.  The words in a hyperlink may look harmless but the actual destination could take you to unintended places, possibly downloading viruses and malware on your computer.  Disguising hyperlinks has also been used as a phishing or social engineering attack to get you to provide personal information after you click on the links.

Have you ever clicked on a link and all of a sudden your computer became very slow?  You probably clicked on a malicious link that installed a virus or tracking software on your computer.   Here are some tips to help you ‘think before you click’.

linkImage

Hyperlink safety tips

1.  Move your cursor over the hyperlink to look at the destination website address.   If it looks suspicious, avoid clicking on it.  For example, if you wanted to click on a link such as Send A Greeting Card but hovering over it showed ad.click12AF456VU as the destination address, it is probably not going to take you where you thought.

2.  On mobile devices, hold your finger down on the link and a box will appear showing the actual destination website address.

3.  Never click on unexpected links in emails.  If a colleague, friend, or family member sends you an email with a link with no reason why they are sending you the link, contact the person directly to make sure they actually did send you the email.  A simple phone call or text message asking, “Did you send me an email with a link to click?” will help you to stay safe.

4.  Get out of the mindset of clicking first and asking questions later.  Ask those questions first before deciding whether or not to click on a link.

Next Tuesday’s Topic: Browser history

Christina Bonds

Christina Bonds is an Application Specialist in the Web Technology department at Elon University.

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