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Fake news spreads more than just lies

6 March 2018

Cybercriminals are using 'fake news' articles to attract victims to dodgy websites.

If you go to the fake news site, malware downloads onto the computer or device you're using.

It then searches for sensitive information such as your bank login details and passwords, or it might exploit your device for other malicious purposes, such as a botnet attack.

What is a botnet?

A botnet is a collection of devices connected to the internet, which are infected and remotely controlled to carry out malicious activity. Typically, the owner of the device has no way of knowing a botnet has infected their system. Infected devices may include your computer, mobile phone or any other device connected to the internet.

What is fake news?

Fake news is when incorrect or false information is deliberately sent out, disguised as credible news.

Rampant on social media, fake news can be difficult to spot and is shared by those who believe the often sensationalist headline.

Merely clicking the headline to read the full article, or pressing 'play' on a video is enough to expose your system to malware.

How does fake news spread?

Fake news can spread like wildfire on social media, potentially exposing millions of users to malware! When a friend shares something, it's natural to think the link is safe and trustworthy, but this isn't always the case.

How to spot fake news

  • Be wary of sensationalist headlines.
  • Consider the source before clicking the link—fake addresses often look similar to credible news sites.
  • Use a search engine to see if other credible sources are reporting the same story.
  • Don't click on links in social media or those emailed to you. Navigate to a credible news article via a search engine to find out what's happened.
  • Stop and think before you share on social media. If you share a fake news article that is carrying malware, you will expose your friends and family to the risk.
  • Make sure you install all security updates issued for your computer and devices.
  • Install anti-virus software on all your devices and keep them up-to-date. Get your news from trusted sources rather than relying on your social media feed for news.

Read more about socialising safely online and recovering from malware.