(WOIO) - Getting you to click on e-mail links is apparently the new strategy for hackers, which is a shift from getting you to open attachments. That's because with links, thieves can often get around security products.
Patrick Siewert did what experts say never do; he clicked a link in a malicious phishing e-mail.
"It brought us to a foreign website in Mexico for some sort of spa," he said.
Siewert is a professional and used a test computer. He doesn't advise you try this at home. The former detective now has his own forensic consulting firm. He did the unscientific test because he was curious.
More research on that link revealed it originated from Europe.
"A domain in the Czech Republic, and I went to the website and it was some sort of wholesale retailer. So what the Mexican Spa and the e-mail domain from the Czech Republic have to do with each other, I don't know," he said.
If you think you've clicked on one of these fraudulent links, run your antivirus and keep a close eye on your bank and credit card accounts.
"You start noticing some weird pop-ups or maybe weird ads on your Facebook feed. It's possible that it has wormed its way into your system and you may need a bit more thorough cleaning," Siewert said.
If that's the case, you should find a computer expert you trust. Siewert says educating yourself about cyber crime is a great source of protection.
"Even if there is a break through with law enforcement or information security sectors that says OK, we know how to stop this, they are going to find another way to do it," Siewert said.
Probably your safest option, even if you think the e-mail is legitimate, is don't click the link. If you have a question or think there is a problem, call the company or type in the web address yourself.
Cyber experts say the same caution you use on a computer, should be used on your mobile devices.
Siewert says when he clicked the link there was no obvious signs that anything malicious was happening, but he says don't be fooled. While you don't see anything happening, many times crooks are busy working in the background and you will never know it.
Helpful links you should click on: