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Never Click Links In Emails



July 12th, 2012 09:37 am | by Ed |

This is a lesson that Freddy T. learned recently. Sadly he learned it (I think, you never know with Freddy.) the hard way. He had been warned many times that indiscriminately clicking links in emails, especially spam emails, is a bad idea. However he just shrugged off those warnings believing that people were just being overly fearful for no good reason.

A couple of days ago he found out how serious an issue it can be. He was going through his email and one bit of spam offered a "free download" of a game that he'd been wanting for a long time. All he had to do was fill out a couple of surveys and the game would be his as a reward. Of course, he clicked on it.

The link took him to a page (it's since disappeared so don't ask) that presented him with several "surveys" to choose from. He picked two of them and spent a few minutes answering questions. When he was done the site gave him a link to his free download.

Freddy's second mistake was not having his anti-virus program scan the downloaded file before he ran it. He just started it up. Of course it was not the game he had hoped for. Instead it was a custom written bit of hard drive formatting software. It told him it would need administrator privileges to install the game and he obediently used "run as administrator" to run the "installer" again.

Once the program had admin rights it immediately disabled keyboard and mouse input, displayed a "progress bar" to show "installation progress" and then proceeded to do a low level format of his hard drive.

He lost everything of course, Which brings me to another bit of advice that Freddy has ignored for as long as people have been telling him. He has never made a backup copy of anything. Again he thought people were being paranoid with no good reason.

I hope that this finally convinces him that while maybe people are being paranoid, there is good reason for paranoia.

Just because you're paranoid does NOT mean that "they" aren't out to get you. In today's world, all to often "they" ARE out to get you in one way or another.

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