When In Doubt, Delete It!


By Dave Pagenkopf

Personal online security and privacy are often areas of our lives we would like to be more diligent about. Now is a great time to refresh our goals and tune up those areas!  Don’t be overwhelmed… From August 1 – 10, I’m sharing ideas to tune up your personal privacy and computer security.

Most malware is introduced into businesses (and likely homes) by clicking on a link in a legitimate looking email. These emails, referred to as phishing emails by the pros, entice people to click on a link that may install malware or encourage the user to share important information like passwords.

Many of these phishing emails are expertly done, but they almost always contain an attachment for you to open or a link to click. Don’t do it!

My view is that when in doubt, just delete the email!

Skepticism is your friend here. If you receive an important looking message from your bank with a link it and you are afraid to delete it, then instead of clicking on the link just go directly to the bank’s web site and login as you normally would do. Most banks and other institutions will have a place to send you secure messages.

So, what if you do click on it? There are a number of things that could result, including that your passwords and personal information could be compromised, and the phishing link can automatically send the email from your account to the accounts of people in your address books, spreading the link even further.

But how exactly does the scam use the link to uncover your personal information and send emails from your account?  YouTube user DewClarke lifted the veil on the other side of hacking to show exactly how passwords are pulled from phishing links (and YIKES it is grim).



The most important question, though, is what to do after you’ve clicked the link. Here are the immediate steps you should take:

  • Disconnect your device from Wi-Fi.
  • Back-up any personal files that you have on your computer with a USB.
  • Reconnect to Wi-Fi, and run a malware scan like Malware Bytes on your computer to see if your information has been compromised.
  • Change the password to your email, and passwords on any account where you have sensitive information — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, online shopping sites. Anywhere you might have your credit card information stored.
  • Call your bank and credit card companies to let them know that your information has been compromised; the bank will keep an eye on your accounts, and the credit card companies will reissue you cards with new numbers to prevent fraud.
  • Email your address book and post on Facebook or other social media to let people know your account has been compromised, and not to open any links sent from your account.
  • If you are still experiencing issues, contact a professional on what steps to take next.


Again… my view is that when in doubt, just delete the email!