“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you’ll be swept off to.” ~ Bilbo Baggins
We all do it when we surf the web.
You start your surfing journey by going to a favorite website, a local news site, sports site, Facebook. Every time we turn on the computer/laptop/mobile device we are leaving a virtual “home” and exploring whoever or whatever subjects we are searching for. After a series of clicks, one page leads to another, and we veer off.
You may soon be somewhere completely different than where you originally set out upon. Then, it only takes a moment to click on something that could get us into trouble.
Advertisements or articles that are (often) on the sidebar or bottom of an otherwise informative webpage
As if they were carnival barkers, yelling “Step Right Up, see the man eating chicken!” One clicks on the link and sadly finds that it’s just someone eating chicken. The reality of the situation is that they are often items that will say “look how these stars look 30 years later” or “8 foods to never eat.” I’m sure you have all seen them.
These ads are often monetized, and the host websites get kickbacks for sending you to another website. While the clicks aren’t worth much (perhaps a fraction of a penny), enough people click them to generate revenue. Outbrain and Taboola are 2 of the most prolific Clickbait creators virtually littering the cyberspace.
While most of these websites house innocent content, others harbor software code that can do real damage to your digital device.
One new trend is online ads that claim you’ve won a prize or that your computer is infected. In reality, these ads are more sinister in nature, often hiding a wolf: software or malicious code that eventually infects your device, leaving it susceptible to hackers.
No user means to purposefully infect a computer or device with a virus or malware. The Internet is a fascinating technology that makes all of our lives easier. Taking precautions to protect yourself and your devices will make the Internet a safer resources for all of us.
Avoiding Common Traps:
CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT – If you don’t need to read it, don’t. It’s probably not worth your time to “see how these 37 child starts look now.” Are you truly going to feel better about yourself after reading it?
BE DILIGENT IN WHERE YOU ARE in the cloud when you click. Are you on a highly visible web/news site? Generally, a national news website will have safer content than other smaller market sites.
IF IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT GENERALLY IS. There is no free iPad, so don’t click to win one. There is no “1 Trick to help _____” fill in the blank. Don’t click there please! You may be creating a mess to clean-up later if your computer or device becomes comprised.
ALWAYS BE CAREFUL WITH FINANCIAL INFORMATION online. Never give it out over an unsecured website. Certainly, don’t buy prepaid cards to give them numbers either.
CREATE STRONG, SECURE, ORIGIANL PASSWORDS and change them periodically. Passwords such as “1234”, “password”, significant dates or kids’ names are easily compromised. A strong password may be the easiest way to protect your computer and your online accounts from being hacked.
Clickbait on a major news site:
By Austin Hermunslie, Red River Communications