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Web-savvy family: Think twice before you click

Grey computer mouse - web-savvy family: think twice before you clickThe Internet has all of our answers (well most of them anyway).  Sometimes we find things we didn’t even know existed and we click to find out more. But that’s what the bad guys are banking on: You not thinking before you click!

Before the release of The Hunger Games film, our team noticed that a variety of malicious pages were appearing within search results. Cybercriminals were capitalizing on popular subjects on the web to lure users to their sites, where security could become compromised. Cybercriminals do this by creating what are called “Poisoned Search Terms.” Websites are created to specifically match common searches on trending topics. Cybercriminals trick search engines so that their page is recognized as a relevant site, which allows these infected pages to make it into your results. According to Norton’s Safe Web study from 2010, more than one-third of top trending search terms yielded malicious results. 

Typically, these sites offer sensational content to entice users to click through. Most of the pages offer full movie downloads or access to unreleased video and imaging. When clicked, these “poisoned” links can automatically put viruses, keylogging programs (where criminals can monitor everything you type), and other nasty infected software on your smartphone, computer or tablet that puts your personal information at risk.  This has become a popular method for cyberattacks with other popular events like the Royal Wedding and the Twilight saga drawing lots of similarly infected pages. Your family should be conscious of this whenever searching the web.

A good rule of thumb is to always think twice before clicking.  If the content you’re looking for is available from a site you recognize, always choose the more trusted option.  If you have doubts about a site’s legitimacy, it’s always a good idea to do a quick check on Norton Safe Web. The site allows you to enter a URL into the search bar and you’ll receive Norton’s security review of the page.

If you and your kids are active on Facebook, you can also download an app for Facebook and those risky sites will be identified by Norton directly in the newsfeed. 

Regardless of whether there is a major event or not, cybercriminals are making search results enticing.  Be extra cautious when something looks too good to be true. 

A good rule of thumb: always think twice before you click.

Lynn Hargrove is the Director of Consumer Solutions for Symantec Canada.

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