Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert
Now that the 3 major search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo index real-time search for Twitter and other social networks, consumers must be aware that not all relevant search is a safe click. Scammers and identity thieves see this as real-time free advertising for their malware.
When news breaks, the social media is now considered a trusted source for cutting edge information. The search engines trust that data and place those keyword search results on page one.
A criminal hacker seeing news break begins to multiply that message and embed malware in the links that lead to fraud.
Tainted Twitter and Facebook updates are riddled with spam and viruses in status posts where links are often disguised in short URLs that go to spoofed sites or include a downloadable virus.
The blind trust the search engines have in these results puts the user in jeopardy.
While all 3 search engines have automatic and manual processes for detecting such links, the sheer volume of hackers using this strategy creates a cat and mouse scenario that is far from fool proof.
While I certainly use social media to inform the world on current events, I don’t recommend you click on links from those who you aren’t familiar with. I never click links in the body of an email from those I’m not familiar with and I don’t do it on social media either.
If you are compelled follow the link, use a short URL decoder that provides a glimpse into where the link goes. Otherwise make sure you have the most updated browser that informs you of entry to spoofed sites. And make sure your antivirus is fully up to date.