Trust & Safety Blog

Stranger danger: beware of malware

If you’ve not heard of clickbait, they’re those tantalisingly-titled web articles like ‘learn how to make millions while eating pizza’ or ‘never before seen photos of Beyoncé’s baby bump’.

It’s a hook, and advertisers use these techniques hoping to draw you in to generate more page views. They’re trying to trigger that ‘I MUST KNOW MORE’ impulse, and it can be pretty effective.

The bad news is clickbait isn’t all harmless media. Scammers have adopted the same tactics in order to distribute a particular kind of computer virus called malware.

We go together like clickbait and malware…

Malware loves clickbait. It uses our impulses against us, hiding beneath the surface, just waiting to get onto your PC and wreak all sorts of havoc.

Here’s what happens:

You receive an email from someone or find a link to something that looks cool or important.

You’re unfamiliar with the sender, the content it references, and the site it wants you to go to. But it looks interesting or urgent so you ‘click here’ as directed.

Sometimes it looks like nothing happens, and you just get redirected to the previous web page. Behind the scenes, a dodgy piece of malware is making its new home on your PC.

Once it’s on there, malware can be tricky to dislodge, and it can get up to all sorts of mischief.

It can record your login information for any website you access, lock your computer, and even email people in your address book to try and hook them as well.

Cut the hard line!

You don’t necessarily need to take a bat to your modem, but there’s a bunch you can do to prevent malware gaining access to your data. Here’s a few simple tips and tricks:

On desktop make sure:

  • your browser is up to date
  • your operating system is up to date
  • you’re using up to-date antivirus and antimalware software
  • you practise safe browsing and be suspicious of unfamiliar senders or links.

When downloading app on your phone:

  • research the publisher of the app (e.g. whether they made other successful apps)
  • check out the reviews from other users
  • read the permissions when you download or update an app (e.g. it shouldn’t need to access your contacts list)
  • consider using a (genuine) antivirus/antimalware program.

Want to know more?

For more information, check out these help pages:

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact our 24/7 support team if you have any other questions.

Stay safe out there!