Don’t Push That Button: Understanding Internet Cons

As the Internet has evolved, so have scammers and con artists. These are people who look for any way possible to lead you off the beaten path, onto their sites, and into a trap that typically involves getting you to pay up. The most recent example of a prevalent Internet con is the fake “play” or “download” button. Most people have fallen prey to this scam at one point or another, so how do you guard against it?

Know Your Source

Before you can guard against fakers, you have to know whether you’re dealing with one or not. There’s no need to name specific sites, but if you frequent sites that offer sketchy downloads and “free” video and TV streaming, you’re bound to run into fake play and download buttons. If you’re not sure about a particular site’s legitimacy, do some searching to see if people give it negative reviews.

Look for the Biggest Button

In most cases, a fake button will be the biggest, most brightly-colored button on the page. It may also be animated and blinking. This is done on purpose to draw your attention away from the real play or download buttons. Many times, the real button will either be directly below the video in a play bar or the download link will be a simple text link. Also, beware of fake play buttons that pop up on top of videos when paused. These may look like they’re meant to resume the video, but typically, they’re leading you to another site.

Hover Over the Button

Before pushing any button on the Internet, hover over it. When you do this on a video, you should see a URL pop up in the bottom of your browser. This shows you that the button is actually a link and not a functional part of the site. When you do this for a download, make sure the URL’s root matches the site from which you’re supposed to be downloading.

The Button Opens a New Window

One dead giveaway that a button is fake is if it opens a new window or tab when you click on it. Keep in mind that when you download something, you should receive a notification that the download has started, or if you click to play a video, the actual video should start playing. In other words, you should not be taken to a new site in order to complete the action.

Unfortunately, con artists these days have begun to utilize technology that prevents you from closing windows. Instead, the new site will continue to create pop up dialogs, even when you click on the window’s close button.

Thankfully, you can avoid these problems by immediately closing any new browser windows or tabs that a fake button may generate. If you do find yourself facing a window or tab that keeps popping up, check the box on the dialog that says “Prevent this page from creating additional dialogs” to finally close the offending site. This option is typically available when the dialog pops up for the second time.

Even if you get fooled by a fake button, you can always protect your computer. Take a look at the Best Antiviruses of 2016 for more information on keeping your computer secure!

Next: Security 101: Using a Proxy for Downloads

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