Think BEFORE You Click! – How Hard Is That?

imageHARD, apparently.

I recently repeated a small experiment (for the third year in a row), with a group of “average computer user” friends, (12 this time around), and I was disappointed to see (once again), that the conditioned response issue to “just click” while surfing the web, was still there.

Still, I’m always hopeful that reinforcing the point that clicking haphazardly, without considering the consequences – the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information – would have had some impact. Apparently not.

But, I haven’t given up. I’m prepared to hammer them repeatedly until such time as I can make some progress. In the meantime, I expect that curiously browsing the web blissfully unaware of the considerable malware dangers, will continue to be the modus operandi for my friends.

They’re not alone in their “clicking haphazardly” bad habits. Many of us have learned to satisfy our curiosity simply by a mouse click here, and a mouse click there. Arguable, we have developed a conditioned response (without involving conscious thought), to – “just click”.

It can be argued, that our “just click” mindset poses the biggest risk to our online safety and security. In fact, security experts argue, that a significant number of malware infections could be avoided if users stopped “just clicking haphazardly”, or opening the types of files that are clearly dangerous. However, this type of dangerous behavior continues despite the warnings.

Most visitors to this site are above average users (I’m assuming that you are too), so, I have a challenge for you.

Take every appropriate opportunity to inform your friends, your relatives, and associates, that “just clicking haphazardly” without considering the consequences, can lead to the installation of malicious code that can cause identity theft and the theft of passwords, bank account numbers, and other personal information.

Help them realize that “just clicking”, can expose them to:

  • Trojan horse programs
  • Back door and remote administration programs
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Being an intermediary for another attack
  • Mobile code (Java, JavaScript, and ActiveX)
  • Cross-site scripting
  • Email spoofing
  • Email-borne viruses
  • Packet sniffing

They’ll be glad that you took an interest in their online safety. And, best of all, by doing this, you will have helped raise the level of security for all of us.

A point to ponder:

Since it’s proven to be difficult to get “buy-in” on this – “think before you click safety strategy” – I generally ask the question – do you buy lottery tickets? Not surprisingly, the answer is often – yes. The obvious next question is – why?

The answers generally run along these lines – I could win; somebody has to win;……. It doesn’t take much effort to point out that the odds of a malware infection caused by poor Internet surfing habits are ENORMOUSLY higher than winning the lottery and, that there’s a virtual certainty that poor habits will lead to a malware infection.

The last question I ask before I walk away shaking my head is – if you believe you have a chance of winning the lottery – despite the odds – why do you have a problem believing that you’re in danger on the Internet because of your behavior, despite the available stats that prove otherwise?


Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Online Safety, Spyware - Adware Protection

18 responses to “Think BEFORE You Click! – How Hard Is That?

  1. Hazel

    Hi, Bill!
    There’s much “food for thought” in your blog. I would like to know what advice you could give us on good practice to try to avoid the aforementioned installation of malicious code?

  2. Bill,
    Thanks for running this important subject again. I believe that we’re our own worse enemies when it comes to irresponsible Internet behavior. And, thanks for all you do to help keep folks safe on the Net…Bravo!!!

    • Hello, my friend – hello!

      I drop by your place often (although not in the past few days). Having dropped by today, I was pleasantly surprised by your latest (good to see you active). You’ve hit a home run with Do You Surf The Net Naked? I’ve plugged it into tomorrows TNT. It’s a must read.

      I know recovery is a loooong process, so please know, if I can help with the blog thingy I’ll be more than happy to do so.



  3. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Man, do I hear ya. The people I find most receptive to the “just clicking” information are those who don’t know much about computer security. I find they generally welcome and appreciate the information.
    The people who I find frustrating are the ones who think they know about computer security, who think they know about the dangers of “just clicking”,but who actually know bugger all. These are the people who think because they have the latest security suite all will be well. These people are the greatest danger to the rest of us.

    • Hey Mal,

      For sure. I see the same thing. People over the age of 40+ I find, are really receptive to tips and hints. They seem to know that “they don’t know”.

      It’s the same old – same old – isn’t it?



  4. hard ? No, unlike it’s easy to think before click, depends on the behavior of user.
    Firstly, I want to say it’s good to see such educational and informative articles on the internet. Very good points are emphasized simply in this article.
    I use Redirect Remover and I recommend it for Firefox users. (This add-on protects my family from common redirect commands and also prevents redirects to phishing websites.) Have a good day free of virus 😉

    • Hey Batsec,

      I’d like to agree with you but, time after time, survey after survey, indicate that typical users do not think before clicking. As an IT professional – specializing in corporate security, I see the results of this behavior far too often. It’s important to remember, that unaware and undereducated casual users, form the core of Internet users – not high level techies.

      Thanks for the tip on Redirect Remove – unfortunately, this add-on is no longer supported in current versions of Firefox.

      Good to get your comment on this issue. 🙂


      • yes you’re right, this add-on is no longer supported. And last version released on June 3, 2010. Even so, it works perfect with Firefox 9.0.1 and really effective. I wish they developed this add-on more.

  5. Don Naphen

    Hi Bill. As always, a pleasure to see your most welcome daily bag of goodies on your blog! Not much I can add to this particular forum other than, thanks to you, I collected a number of utilities that have saved my butt AND also my idiot nephew (now my roommate)! He’s a big Facebook fan and didn’t have a clue as to the dangers of “sharing his soul” to all of his so-called “friends”. I think I spend at least 3 hours a month cleaning up the clutter, infections etc. He always blames me for it: “Oh it must be that last program you installed”. I remind him that because of those programs, I can clean up his massive ignorant clicks! LOL. Oh, I’ve had LIBERKEY on my system for about a week now, and yesterday I gave it a workout. It cleaned up over 5K of dead files! Amazing. And yes, the pc boots up nice and clean, and about 15 seconds faster. A long time ago, thanks to the now extinct blog by Fred Langa, I invested in a great image backup program (Acronis). It’s saved me countless hours of frustration trying to “fix” problems. Backup Backup Backup is another key to avoiding excessive drinking and tranquilizers! Ha ha. Have a great day and keep up the good work!


    • Hi Don,

      Yes indeed – Fred Langa – one of the pioneers. Longtimers like us owe him a world of gratitude I think – kinda miss him.

      No doubt about it – Acronis is at the top of the backup game. Can’t think of another app that’s been at it quite as long.

      Memories are definitely made of – “Oh it must be that last program you installed”. I tried to get the law changed, so that we could get an “open season” on people who had the nerve to utter that phrase. Alas, I had no luck. 🙂

      Always great to hear from you Don. We originals gotta stick together. 🙂



  6. cappydog

    Great words Bill. I have told my friends please think before you click some have learned the hard way & some have not learned yet. I think today when you are on the Net common sense and what my dad would call “street smarts” is what people need. So you “HAPPY CLICKERS” out there use some common sense and street smarts cause if you don’t it could really cost you time and money!

    • Well, Hello There Cappydog!

      You’re one of the good guys (sorry Pam :)), you take your friends’ well being on the Internet to heart. You, are making a difference.

      You’re dad is a smart dude – “street smarts” are perhaps more relevant on the Internet than they are on the street. Being mugged on the street is a long shot – not so on the Internet.

      As always, a super comment that advances the cause.

      Great to hear from you!



  7. John Bent

    Hi Bill,

    There is another type of user; the one to whom a computer is “just a tool”. All they want is to use the computer for what they want it to do and not have to worry about getting involved in things like security issues and software updates. I get comments like “Yes, but you’re interested in that kind of stuff. All I want is to use the damn thing.”! With that kind of thinking it can be an uphill struggle, so I try to keep the mental crampons handy. Still, it gives me a chance to do what I enjoy, so maybe I shouldn’t complain too much.

    Kind regards

    • Hi John,

      I hear ya. That’s an attitude that’s difficult to overcome and understandably so, in my view.

      I can’t ever recall a piece of advertising from either Microsoft or Apple, that even hinted at the need to be aware of cybercrime issues. Instead, it’s all sweetness and light. Marketing at its worse.

      I often hear things like – you can’t protect the stupid from themselves. Nonsensical statements that miss the point – we’re all stupid until we’re shown the path. And, the path to computer literacy is both long and, not without some difficult moments.