Don’t click on these links

phishing

Whether you receive a phishing email inviting you to click on a specific link, whether you see the link on your trusted social media sites, or whether you stumble upon it while Web surfing, here are 10 types of links you should never click on. (Read the story version.)

phishing
Celebrity pics

Lily Collins has replaced Emma Watson this year as the most dangerous celebrity to search for online, according to McAfee. Searches most likely to lead to infected sites were phrases like “Lily Collins nude pictures.” Avril Lavigne came in second, and Sandra Bullock came in third, followed by Kathy Griffin, Zoe Saldana, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, Jon Hamm, Adriana Lima, and Emma Roberts. Miley Cyrus came in at No.20, but the survey came out in September, so the criminals haven't had much time yet to capitalize on her recent antics.

phishing
Breaking news

Phishers have long been taking advantage of news headlines to get people to click on links or download malicious files. If there's a flood in your area, expect a flood of emails about flood insurance or government grants. A widespread phishing email proclaimed that the U.S. had gone to war with Syria. Now with Obamacare going into effect, phishers are using that as well. And it's not just for mass mailings. Criminals can target individual companies or even specific executives with well-crafted emails that seem timely and pertinent.

phishing
Strange software, especially mobile apps

You know not to download strange software on your computer, or download directly from trusted vendor websites or other reputable sources. Don't forget to take the same precautions on your mobile device. Android phones in particular are vulnerable because of the more open nature of the ecosystem. Some malware disguises itself as legitimate apps that people are searching for. Or even as anti-virus software. Check reviews carefully before downloading, and stick with reputable app stores. Malicious apps can track what you type, stealing all your passwords, or send texts to premium rate numbers, racking up big charges for you, and big profits for them.

phishing
`Free’ downloads

If you venture into the dark alleys of the Internet, prepare to be mugged. Criminals will try to lure you in with offers of free porn, cracked software downloads, or free music or movies. According to McAfee, “free downloads” are the most virus-prone search term. Then, when you visit the site, or download the files, bad things happen. It'll cost you more to have your computer cleaned than you saved by vising these sites, and if you did it at work, you might also get fired.

phishing
Celebrity scandals

Have you heard that there's an adult video of Rita Ora? If you did, did you also click on the link? If the gossip came in over a social network like Twitter or Facebook, did you also pass it along to friends or colleagues? Next time, surf over to your favorite celebrity gossip site, instead, to find out the latest gossip.

phishing
Bargains galore

Prescription drugs, Apple products, college diplomas, cigars, exotic vacations. If it's something you would really want and it's available for a limited time at a ridiculously low price – hit “delete” and move on. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

phishing
Invoice attachments

You're probably used to getting invoices as attachments. In June, security firm Kaspersky Lab noticed a mass mailing that pretended to be an invoice from well-known information provider LexisNexis and had a legitimate-seeming return address, the LexisNexis logo, and a professional style and format. It asked recipients to download the attached PDF for the full invoice. In this particular phishing campaign, the attachment was actually a zip file containing a trojan. Criminals have also found a way to embed a virus into an actual PDF file, so be wary.

phishing
Charity scams

Every disaster is an opportunity for you to help your fellow human beings. And it's also an opportunity for scammers to take advantage of that impulse.

phishing
Exclusive access

Does a site promise you an exclusive video or news story if you sign in with your Facebook login or other access credentials? There are no exclusives. Get the story or video from a legitimate site. If no legitimate site has it, there's a good chance that neither does the restricted access site.

phishing
Online surveys

Many people enjoy taking part in surveys, and seeing how other people voted. There are few things more frustrating, however, than to discover that the survey you'd just spent time filling out is actually a sales gimmick, or requires personal information from you before it shows you the results. Stick with surveys from sites you know and trust.