It’s an unfortunate but not unexpected state of affairs that hackers continue to take advantage of our voracious appetite for news. As has been happening with hot news stories for at least a year or more, malware links are cropping up to exploit the media frenzy surrounding missing Malaysian Flight MH370. Taking advantage of the viral nature of sharing prevalent on Facebook and Twitter, fake links promise “shocking video” revealing the fate of the missing flight. Clicking them takes you to a counterfeit survey designed to look like the Facebook surveys many app-makers use to gather info on users before granting access to their app or content. Instead of course, you are giving your info to hackers on a fake website which will undoubtedly be used to annoying, or worse, nefarious ends.
What this means for you:
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1000 times: don’t click links in Twitter, Facebook or email, doubly so if the source isn’t someone you trust or recognize, and you can’t clearly see the destination URL. Most links shared on Twitter use a URL shortener which obscures the final destination, a technology designed originally to compress long URLs into tiny ones and now used as a trick by spammers and hackers to lure you to a fake website. All it takes is a simple page load (no typing or filling in forms required) for an out-of-date browser or OS to be compromised, and once they have a toe in the door, it’s all down hill from there.
From this point forward, you should expect hackers will exploit hot news items to take advantage of our natural curiousity. If part of your online brand-building, either professionally or personally, includes re-sharing or retweeting internet links, be careful you don’t inadvertently share a fake news item to your friends and followers.
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