Staying safe online is of the utmost importance. You can become a victim of cyber crime in a matter of minutes! Clicking on links in emails can be dangerous but so is clicking on links that come through on your mobile phone, in the form of a text.
Example verbiage for bad text links can say something like this: “Dear Richard, your phone is receiving too many spam texts. Eradicate them now, click here >> ewt16.info/uLQT3lmZ4e”
Or, “Notification from Walmart: Richard, you have received (1) package. Please schedule for collection before it is returned to the sender. >>Qsdn6.info/r0ynNjkxc”
Or, “Hey Richard! This is Mike from DMV; you kept your record clean which means you get $610 from us>> Claim here ghr8.info/sz3kK3yMZP”
A few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t click on links in text messages. Text links can cause malware. Malware can collect information from your phone and direct you to fake Internet sites that look real but are designed to steal your personal information. Clicking on these links can also direct you to ads containing inappropriate content.
- Do not reply directly to spam text messages. Replying lets the bad guy know that they have reached a legitimate number. This could potentially lead to having the bad guy sell your phone number to other bad guys who will use it to send you MORE text messages with links that you don’t need or want.
- Do check your phone settings. For iPhones, click on the “i” or “info” on the top right-hand corner of the offending text. Click on “info” and an option to block should be available. For Android, look for the three dots on the top-right-hand corner of the text. Select “People” and “Options,” then select “Block”. Blocking options may appear differently depending on your version of iOS or Android.
There are other actions you can take such as checking with your carrier to see if they offer a call-blocking service or adding your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. If you have the time, you may also report spam texts to your wireless carrier.
We live in an electronically connected world, and this electronic world is connected with links, some of which are nefarious and whose goal is to gain and get ahead at your expense. Remain vigilant, exercise good judgment, take a pause, and always think before you click!
Mary Rueda is an information security professional. She obtained her Master’s degree from Regis University, holds the designation of CISSP (Certified Information System Security Professional), and lives in Northwest Denver. You can find her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/maryrueda/