There were many times that we have seen an unknown URL with an illogical set of symbols appearing in the group chat or even in our own instant message box, usually accompanied by an offer you cannot possibly turn down, like getting a big pile of linden dollars for completing a survey.
There is something that amazes me much more than the generousity of those people – it is the philanthropic feeling the average Second Life resident gets when he sees such an offer and rushes to alert everybody on the local chat with the bravery of someone defusing a bomb where there are seconds left before it blows up.
Good intentions are great, and I do appreciate what those courageous people are doing for nothing but a gratitude from many saved residents. My idea is that usually they do not only warn you about doing anything on the website behind the link – they do not want you to click on the URL at all.
Have I been wondering why!
The amount of tech-savvy people around the world grows. They might not know how to set up an SQL server or how to write a plugin for their favourite program, but most of them are well aware about different kinds of cyberscams, and even more of them know that nothing good in life comes for free. Indeed, there are people who remember punched cards and therefore are having a harder time to keep up with all the methods scammers use today – but, honestly, unlike techniques, the initial principle of the scam has not been updated since ancient times, so these people just need to remember that you never get something for nothing. If they forget… well, a fool and his money are soon parted, one way or another, not through this scam, then through another one. It is cruel, but it is true.
Now, back to URLs, the original subject of the post.
Saw an unknown URL in a group chat? Give it less than a minute before the “IT IS SCAM DO NOT CLICK IT” message from a concerned resident appears.
Here is the fact. It is safe to click it. It is not safe to do anything on the webpage that has appeared or the executable file/archive that has decided to be downloaded (never witnessed, just can assume this might happen too). To be true, I click them myself often, just out of curiousity – maybe there is a new techique scammers have come up with?
If you need a proof that they are safe to click – let us take a look at the known methods scammers use and when they actually work.
– A phishing webpage which looks exactly like the Second Life log in page.
When you open one… nothing happens. You need to type something into text fields for the scammer to make use of your visit. Even if it traces your keystrokes and records what you have typed into the password field, therefore knows your password before you click the fake Log In button – still, you need to type it first. Manually. So, you can just open the page, have a chuckle and close it. Or can type a random username and password to make a scammer’s life a little more complicated.
– An archive/executable (*.exe) file that wants to be downloaded.
When you download it… nothing happens. For something bad to happen, you need to open/execute it by yourself – it will not start automatically. So, you can either cancel the download immediately or download it and check with your antivirus. You can just delete it, too.
I do not defend scammers at all here. My sole point is that if you are curious about what is there, you can safely open the website and not do anything there (type or click anything except for the Close button). You have my guarantees that nothing will happen even to your account, let alone your web browser or PC. However, all of the keystrokes and clicks done at that website are your responsibility – as well as opening what it has made you download.
Nowadays, viruses hide even in thumb drives’ firmware. So the only way to protect yourself is living it smart. If you need the first step, may I suggest checking out this website once a month. Sometimes, there are interesting readings.