Phishing link first aid: what to do when you accidentally click on a dodgy link.

Published on: 9th February 2024
Picture shows a computer with the word scam across the screen

Phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated and can be personalised to make them feel relevant, making you more likely to open them.

Deciphering real emails from fake ones is getting much more challenging. But what happens if you accidentally click on a malicious link?

The two main perils are:

Malware – The link could trigger the installation of malicious software on your computer to extract data, spy on your activities (including passwords you enter), or use your machine to attack others. It will likely appear that nothing happened.

Fake login – this will be a convincing copy of the site you expected, where you log in and give hackers your password. They can then login as you to these services. Visiting this page also risks a malware infection.

 

Let’s be realistic – anyone can accidentally click a phishing link. So what should you do next?

 

Malware first aid:

– Disconnect from the internet immediately by turning off your router. Malware can spread via WiFi, infecting connected devices, and it requires the internet to send data back to the hackers.

– If you have antivirus software, run a full scan.

– Make sure all software is up to date, especially web browsers.

– Monitor your device for unusual behaviour like slower performance or noisy fans.

 

Fake login first aid:

– Use a separate device to log into the correct website and change your password.

– Notify the supplier of what happened.

– Update your password on any other sites if you reused it.

I advise you to have an IT support company you can call when issues arise – someone providing hands-on support for your devices. If ever in doubt, contact them to ensure your computer is safe.

 

To avoid clicking phishing links, my top tips are:

  • Take five. If an email seems very urgent or authoritative, pause instead of panicking.
  • Verify directly on the supplier’s site; if they have an urgent message for you, it will always be evident when you log in the usual way.

 

I hope this was helpful.

If you would like support with your cyber security, I offer consultations and training, which we can do online or locally in person. Find out more here: https://staffordweb.uk/security/

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