Lindsey Donato
Senior Consultant, The BlumShapiro Cybersecurity Team

Clickbait, nowadays it’s hard to avoid it. Though you may not know its name, you certainly come across it daily. “You won’t believe it,” “You’ll never guess who said this” are the types of intriguing headlines that tempt us to click that link, otherwise known as clickbait – web content with catchy headlines aimed at grabbing more clickers (website visitors) and increasing advertising. Unfortunately, clickbait sometimes has a darker objective...

Some clickbait now serves as a link to malicious websites. These sites contain malicious code including ransomware, viruses and Trojans (allowing malicious users access to your system). Clickbait is simply a fun, exciting, enticing invitation to a slew of malicious content and people.

Clickbait may present itself in the form of a catchy quiz or survey. Generally, these will ask you for personal information, or for access to your social media account (hello, Facebook). In other instances, the bait may take you to a spoof website that sells low-quality goods.

Keep these things in mind the next time you feel the urge to "click here:"

  1. Skip the Quiz. Social media quizzes are a huge market for these clickbait cyber-attacks. Cyber experts have noted that these quizzes are serving as means for a hacker to disguise links that trick you into downloading malware or steal your personal information.
     
  2. Don't Give Them Anything! If a quiz or survey is asking for your email or for you to “sign in” before you can access information, think twice. You are basically giving your information away at this point. Cisco’s 2015 Midyear Security Report notes that Facebook scams are the most commonly used method to gain access to organizational networks. So, remember, if you need to “allow access to your account,” something is up. Keep your information private—don’t do the hackers job for them. 
     
  3. MYOB. Mind Your Own Business. Seems simple enough but our culture has a fascination with the business of others, particularly celebrities. And hackers know this. Each year, McAfee compiles a “Most Dangerous Celebrities” list of the top names that scammers are using to lead to malware online. For 2016, Amy Schumer, Justin Bieber and Carson Daly topped the list.  Hackers capitalize on our interest in pop culture, celebrity breakups, album releases and movie premieres and more…so ask yourself if you REALLY need to know before you click.

Clickbait is one of the newer trends in the world of social engineered cyber-attacks. Cybercriminals have caught on to playing into our human emotions and using them against us. Experts are seeing an increase in “blended attacks”–those that rely on a combination of social engineering and malicious software. It’s important to fight the urge to let our emotions take over. By now you should know that when it comes to the internet, not everything is what it appears and when it comes to clickbait, if it sounds just too enticing to ignore, ignore it!

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