Think Twice Before You Click That Random Link Your Friend “Sends” You
You have probably gone on Facebook or Twitter numerous times and among the status updates and pictures shared, you found a curious-looking link. Maybe you received an email directing you to a particular website, or inviting you to check out new “pictures” elsewhere. In some cases, you may even find out you won a “lottery”. While you can probably spot a fake from a mile away, many bogus sites actually fool people every day.
In the case of social media and email, it is possible for friends to send a rogue message without either of you realizing it. In other words, you have no idea the message is fake, and your friend has no idea he or she sent it. In either scenario, you think it came from a trusted friend or relative, and innocently click the link. What happens next could vary. In the case of a Facebook/Twitter link, it could result in you eventually “sending” the same messages to those on your friends list, or leaving “spammy” comments on others’ statuses. More importantly, it could also result in malware and viruses infiltrating your computer, leaving irreversible damage.
You may not even know what is going on until someone alerts you to the message you they received from your account. Even though it may seem a little embarrassing, there is a way to remedy the issue. Chances are someone will report your posts as spam, and the site could lock your account, at least until you change your password. While it may sound like a hassle, this is actually a good thing, as it allows you to clear up any confusion. When you select a new password, think of something that is not common knowledge, i.e. your address, name, or birthdate. A password with capital letters, numbers, and special characters is usually a good idea, as its complexity makes it tougher for others to figure out. Changing your password regularly (say, every few months) is also a good idea. Also, never give out your password unless it is an emergency.
Finally, if you see a link that looks unfamiliar with no additional context clues, ask the person in question if it is legit. If you see an “ad” attached offering something like proven weight loss methods or a site with your pictures, feel free to report it as spam and alert your friend or relative. Don’t worry; you won’t get his or her account shut down. If anything, he or she is alerted to change the password, and figure out what exactly happened.
Let us help you with any questions you may have. We are here 24 hours a day to help you with your computing questions, including how to avoid falling victim to viruses and spyware.