Many People Still Click on This Type of Risky Link

A large percentage of people are willing to click a dubious link if they believe it will get them closer to one goal, a survey finds.

A large percentage of people who use the internet have risked getting malicious software on their computers in hopes of losing weight.

That’s right. A recent study released by Intel Security on Monday shows that 61 percent of people have clicked on a link for a diet program.

Among those people, 88 percent weren’t even sure about the safety of links they clicked on.

Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security, explains the danger in this in a blog post about the study:

We’ve all seen headlines like: “The Secret to Shedding 20 Pounds in 20 Days” and “The Magic Diet Pill That Melts Fat.” What many might not know is that cybercriminals are getting savvier at exploiting consumer search habits. Even realistic information can be a veil for threats. With diet, health, and fitness programs proving a hot topic as we head into summer, phony weight loss ads may lead people into digital traps.

Intel Security is a division of Intel, the technology company best known for manufacturing computer processors.

For the global study, 15,000 people between the ages of 21 and 54 were surveyed.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 30 percent of respondents have purchased a service or product from a promotional link without knowing whether or not it’s a secure site.
  • Most respondents are willing to share personal information like their email address (65 percent), full name (51 percent) or age (50 percent) with a website, service or company in hopes of reaching their goal weight or dream body.
  • 35 percent of respondents don’t know how to check if a website is secure before providing payment details or personal information.

Davis continues:

…there are real consequences to clicking without caution. Clicking certain links and downloading files may result in malware [malicious software] being installed on your computer. The risk? If malware compromises your device, it can send private files and information to a criminal.

To avoid falling victim to such cybercriminals, Intel Security advises that you:

  • Click with caution. Offers from sites that seem too good to be true, such as “Lose 10 pounds in one week,” may indicate that a site should be viewed with caution. Websites or emails might include email phishing links that can lead you to websites that lure you into giving personal information to cybercriminals or download malware to your computer.
  • Browse safely. Beware of phony websites. Sites aimed at scamming consumers may have an address very similar to a legitimate site, like “Wait Watchers” opposed to “Weight Watchers.” Phony sites often have misspellings, poor grammar or low-resolution images. If a site asks for personal information, double-check the URL, and make sure it’s the site you intended to visit and not an imposter.
  • Develop strong passwords. Do away with the “123321” password, and use a strong one, like “9&4yiw2pyqx#.” Regularly change passwords and don’t use the same passwords across all your accounts. As a way to improve the quality of your passwords, consider using a password manager.
  • Stay up to date. The best security software updates automatically to protect your computer. Use the manufacturer’s latest operating systems and allow security patches to be updated on an ongoing basis. Also ensure you have the appropriate software set to conduct routine scans.

Have you ever clicked on a diet-related ad or other link? Let us know in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.

Stacy Johnson

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