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Clickbait links pose security risks

02 June 2016 - 14:00 by Simon Crisp

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People are putting their personal data at risk by interacting with so-called ‘clickbait’ ads, which make use of outlandish titles, eye-catching pictures and unlikely claims, to trick people into engaging with them.

This is according to a new study from Intel, which found that ads relating to claims about health and fitness are especially effective at generating clicks, with people who are looking for a quick fix to attain the perfect ‘beach body’ or simply to lose a little weight being the easiest to dupe.

Often these ads are not legitimate, meaning that people who are looking to buy things like exercise equipment and diet pills via safe shopping online end up being caught up in a phishing scam. This can lead to their personal information being compromised and their identity stolen.

The majority of those questioned said that they were willing to hand over data including their names, email addresses and ages in order to get access to products or services which will help them with health and fitness issues. And this proportion rises during the run-up to the summer, when many consumers become more body-conscious.

Sixty one per cent of respondents admitted to having provided such info to sites which they had visited after clicking a promotional link, the International Business Times reports.

Intel spokesperson, Gary Davis, said that fraudsters were creating increasingly complex strategies to fool people into giving up sensitive information. In particular, they have discovered that certain topics are better suited to achieving this than others.

Using antivirus software, performing regular checks for malware and learning to recognise the links and sites which are not going to offer safe shopping online will all be useful in the fight against cyber crime, according to Davis. And these are skills that more people could do with acquiring.