I’ll bet you’ve all seen them. You know, those special offers on Facebook, or those great deals for free stuff on LinkedIn, that sort of thing? You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? Things like:
- Reply in this post with “Yes” and we’ll send you some whizzy software
- Reply to this post to win a free USB drive
- Like this post and we’ll enter you in a free draw to win a luxury holiday
What harm can they do? Free stuff is always great, isn’t it? And someone has to win that holiday, so why not me?
Have you ever stopped to think of why the stuff is free? Why they want you to Like the post to enter the free draw? What’s the worst that could happen?
Let’s look at the free USB drive. It doesn’t have to be from a social media site, you could be given it at a trade show, or find it on the ground, or get given it while walking through a shopping mall. What do you do with it? Plug it in to a computer to see what’s on it of course. At best, it’s exactly what it seems: a portable hard drive which allows you to share files.
At worst? Well, it could install ransomware on your computer, which encrypts your files and could cost you several hundred pounds to remove – if the bad guys decrypt your machine after you pay them. Or maybe it installs key logging software, which silently sends back details of every button you press – some of those combinations will be usernames and passwords. Or maybe it just copies all your files and sends them off to the bad guys, sitting on the internet somewhere. Just think, all your family photos, that bit of work you did at home because your work computer didn’t give you the right level of access, details of that embarrassing medical procedure you had done, your tax returns, your mortgage details, and more, all silently siphoned off and sent to who knows where.
What about that free software? Maybe it does exactly what it says. But maybe it’s just a ruse to get you to install key logging software, or ransomware, or worse, just like with the free USB stick.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
But surely there’s no harm in entering a free draw is there? Liking a page, perhaps sharing it on your own? If something is free, chances are you are the product. This article on my other site explains it well. This process is also known as like farming or click baiting.
Please just think before you click on those articles / posts. If something sounds too good to true, it probably is.