Have you ever received a link via email, Facebook or Twitter with a message that says something like this:
“Did you know this funny video of you is posted online?”
“Click here to read the latest urgent news on the situation inside Tibet”
“An important message from the Dalai Lama”
It is tempting to click on these links, isn’t it?
This is because the messages are designed to take advantage of things we care about. Unfortunately, these links are often malicious and will take you to a website where your computer can get infected with a virus.
Don’t just open attachments or click on links you receive in your email, Facebook, or chats. Unless you were expecting it, there’s a strong chance that the attachment or link contains a virus that will dangerously infect your computer as soon as you open it. Instead:
1. Check if the link is actually as it appears. Hold your cursor over top of the link (do not click!) and check if it is actually taking you to the same address it appears to be. In some programs, the real address will appear in a text box next to your cursor. In most webmail programs, the real address will appear in the ‘Status Bar’ on the bottom left corner of your browser (Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.). If it isn’t, don’t click!
2. Upload the URL at URLQuery.com to check if it is malicious. (Warning! This service will not necessarily catch every malicious link, especially if it is a new one specially designed to target you.)