The old adage “look before you leap” is most certainly one to remember when you are surfing the net. Quite often things aren’t exactly what they appear to be.

So you’re looking to download, let’s say, the latest app. Following the walk-through process you’re about to click “DOWNLOAD NOW”. But STOP! Unwittingly, you may have just downloaded something quite sinister and harmful to your PC.

Disguising a link to malware as a download button sat alongside something you are planning to download is a tactic that’s becoming ever more commonplace. It’s the perfect ploy since you’re already looking to respond to this call to action.

But you can avoid falling prey to this scam by following these three simple rules of thumb:

1) Think before you click. Don’t automatically click on the first big button you see. Cyber criminals take advantage of internet users’ natural instincts. The button you may actually need could be smaller, perhaps further down the page.

2) If you’re not quite sure, point your mouse towards the button without clicking. As you hover over the link (use this example to our site), look at the URL that will be displayed in the bottom of the screen. If the address matches that of the website you’re on, you should be fine. If, however, it doesn’t and there is a long address that’s not familiar, particularly one that contains the phrase “adservices” or similar, it’s time to recognise that smell of rat and leave well alone.

3) Avoid any sites you have any reason to believe may not be reputable to avoid coming across such fake links. If you can, always opt to download any software straight from the website of the developer.

Be observant with all download links you receive because the spammers will pretend to be anyone – including LINKEDIN, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, your bank etc.  In fact, any site where they can find more about you personally.  Remember many hacking and fraudulent companies collect information about your from different sources and consolidate it to form a picture of you life, your habits etc.  this can form the basis of identity theft.