News Links May Lead to Malware

Millions of Internet users subscribe to news feeds/ news readers/ RSS feeds/ news aggregators. These services allow you to specify topics of interest, then cull news stories to find relevant articles to display to you.

Using news feeds to filter and find articles of interest to you is an excellent way to stay on top of the overwhelming amount content generated daily. You can select to have your feeds delivered in a variety of formats. Listings within a feed typically show the article’s title, the first couple of sentences, and a link – sometimes the link identifies a specific site, sometimes it points to an option to see all of the stories on a particular topic.

What these feeds don’t show, is whether clicking on an article’s link will take you to a site that is legit, is spammy, has harmful downloads, or is riddled with malware that will download to your computer.

Knowing which articles are posted on safe sites can be problematic. Most people just click on whatever looks interesting, but to avoid malware and spam you need to take a few precautions.

newslinks1To see how this works, here is an image that shows an email I receive because I use Google’s Alert news feed service to monitor articles about Internet safety.

As I scrolled down the listing of articles, one caught my eye. It talked about tightened measures on Internet gambling, an area I’ve been paying particular attention to recently.

However, in looking at the URL, it indicates the news source is Poker News, a website I do not know.

Since I don’t know the website, I decided to check it out before clicking on the link. Typing “Poker news” into Google’s search engine, several listings for the site are returned. This alone tells me nothing about the site’s reputation. However, combined with a tool that identifies the safety of the site I learn a great deal.

This is why using a tool that identifies the safety of a site is critical (for those who follow my blogs, you know how often I recommend using a tool that does this). I happen to use McAfee’s Site Advisor (it’s free), but there are several services to choose from, and both Internet Explorer and Firefox have site reputation tools built in that you can use.

In this next image, you see why precaution pays off. Poker News has been identified as a site that has been reported for adware, spyware or other potentially unwanted programs. Clicking on the yellow warning button, I can see information that is more detailed as to why the site was flagged. Now, I can make an informed decision as to whether or not this is a site I choose to visit.


If you don’t know the reputation of a website, you cannot assume that just because it showed up in your news feed your safe. Always check before you click.



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