To click or not? This has always been a question to people around the world about what they should do when they receive an email that has a link in it. How can they know if that email was sent by a robot which was programmed by a hacker to steal their private information?
Do not just click!
There is a stereotype that goes like this: I’m not the president. Why should I be hacked? But it doesn’t work like that. You got some money in your bank account, and the information about your account is stored somewhere online. How can you access it? By your email, of course. Therefore, you may not be the president, but you can still be a victim of hackers. Never, never, NEVER click on a link before you know for a fact that it is safe.
Emails are formatted in a coding language called HTML. The exact language used for building a website. So, can everything that’s done on a web page be performed on an email? The answer is a big YES. The most important thing we can do in emails, as we do on a web page, is using hyperlinks. For example, go to Google. Where will you end up if you click on that hyperlink? Don’t worry, the link is safe. By clicking on the link, the browser will take you to Google.com. But sometimes, all links don’t take you where the hyperlink tells. Before clicking on links, simply move your mouse on the hyperlink to see the URL on the bottom left corner of your screen (if you are using a pc).
- Note: On some occasions, the method I told you about will not be practical because hackers might redirect the link to another host. So, the best way is to avoid clicking on links sent from unknown sources.
What is phishing?
You may all have heard of the word “phishing”. Some people may not know about that yet. So, let’s have a brief talk about phishing. Phishing is the process of receiving emails or messages from an unknown source pretending to be a good company/organization/institute that you know and trust to steal your private information, such as your bank account, login data, and your credit card number. There are four most-known types of phishing: Spear phishing, Whaling, Vishing, and Email phishing.
When does phishing occur?
Now, back to the topic at hand. As was mentioned in the last paragraph, in the phishing process, hackers send you emails about your bank account. The email could be something like this: There is an unusual withdrawal from your account; you need to check it right now! By reading that, you will try to log into your account to check the latest changes in your bank account. You are more likely to click on the link they have sent you so that you can save time. You are taken to a page precisely similar to a bank page with a similar URL. When you click on that link. you would probably think: Everything is safe, so let me log in. But no, it is not safe. You expect to see your profile after entering your username and password, but you won’t. You have given away everything the hacker needed, and he will enter your account and take all your money.
- Note: Do not click on the link if you ever received a mail from a bank or anything like that. Just open your browser and search the bank’s URL manually.
Can they hack your PC?
Sometimes, hackers do not mean to hack you because of financial issues. I mean, they all do bad things to make some money, and we all know it. By not doing it for financial matters, I mean they do not tend to get your credit card number or your bank account user/pass data. What are they looking for if they do not want to get your money? They go for things that are worth more than your money. If you are an employee of a valid and government-based company, you must take it seriously.
As an employee of a high-authority company, you may have draft files of your company’s projects on your computer. Those projects are undoubtedly more valuable than your bank account data. The hackers send you some corrupted links in different ways to get control of your PC. Some of these links take you to a webpage, and then your PC turns down, and they get control of your PC. But some of these corrupted links start downloading some malware to infect your system without moving to a new page. Keylogger is the most famous malware that hackers use to corrupt your PC. The keylogger malware copies every button you press on your keyboard with details (like what buttons are pressed when visiting amazon.com).
What can you do to not be hacked?
To avoid any cyberattack, you can ignore any link you receive in your messages. But it is not possible to avoid clicking on links for a lifetime. The best thing to do is to click on links you expect to receive. For example, if you have just registered on a website and the website tells you to activate your account, you have been sent a confirmation email. On these occasions, clicking on those links won’t be problematic.
The final tip
Most of us don’t check the URL letter by letter. If you want to click the link in the mail, make sure the domain is correctly spelled in the URL. Look at the example below:
At the first look, both links look the same. This is the approach they use to deceive you. You don’t have to blame yourself for being a victim of this scam. If you can be a little bit more specific in scanning the URLs, hackers will never be able to steal your money or information!