Tuesday, March 14, 2006 - Almanac Vol. 52, No. 25
Links Can Be Deceiving
For years, security experts have advised caution when opening email attachments. Now, clicking on website links in email poses an equally big threat. You can’t be sure where a link will take you.
It is often difficult to tell whether a link is "trustworthy". In general, exercise caution, but consider factors such as:
- Do you know the sender? Generally, you should be able to trust content from people you know more than from people you do not (though there are exceptions!).
- Is the message of a type you would expect from the sender? Email could be forged to appear to come from an acquaintance and contain links that will trick your web browser into downloading harmful viruses or worms.
- Is the sender likely to understand the risks of unknown links? Some friends or colleagues may send links they know little about, raising again concern about downloading a worm or causing other problems.
If you use instant messaging, the same advice applies. During the 2005 holiday season, tens of thousands of computers were infected by a worm disguised as a greeting card appearing to come from an AOL Instant Messenger buddy.