DON’T CLICK ON THAT !!!


I‘m tellin’ ‘ya … DON’T CLICK ON THAT !!! On what you ask? That is a fair question deserving of an answer. This subject matter certainly does not apply to lots of folks, but it may be of concern to some so I am sharing this here and now. I am a “Google Alerts” subscriber and for a few years it has always been a good safe method of receiving notification about anything posted online about recumbent/tadpole trikes (which is what I signed up for). But alas I have noticed for some time now that there are malicious websites managing to sneak into the listings Google Alerts is sending out. They appear to be legitimate … stuff about recumbent/tadpole trikes as they use those search words and create stuff that looks much the same as the normal stuff I always see. But if you click on it … WOW … the computer goes bonkers. The screen turns to some wild color and there is a loud annoying sound which I am afraid will disturb the next door neighbor. That is the effect it has on a Linux operating system. I don’t know what it would do on a Windows computer. I wouldn’t be surprised if a horrendous virus or something such would come aboard and totaling crash the computer making it worthless. (I don’t miss Windows!)

Besides the above described event there is another type. It is a real website which screams at you a security alert. There is an audible voice alert as well as a webpage warning that the computer you are using has been hacked and contains dangerous malicious stuff aboard. It further warns you not to try to navigate away from the screen in front of you warning you that it can result in losing valuable files, etc. on the computer. If you try to close it no matter how you try the computer will freeze up and the only recourse then is to “pull the plug” (push the power button) to restart the computer. Regardless of what you try that is the only way to resolve the matter that I have found.

Here is an example of one of the listings in a Google Alert which is malicious:

malicious website in Google Alerts

This particular one is not as good of an example as some others simply because it speaks of motorbikes. There have been many in the past which only mention recumbent trikes or tadpole trikes.

Interestingly I just tried using a url scanning website which will supposedly report malicious urls. I pasted the url in and it ran a scan showing that it was a safe website. I don’t understand that.

The problem is it is hard to spot these malicious websites just looking at the links. And obviously it sure doesn’t help any when you use a url scanning service and it shows it is safe when it is not.

Another result of clicking on some of the links in the Google Alerts results is that you are taken to a website that seems harmless enough, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter you are signed up for. I clicked on one  moments ago and it took me to some restaurant website.

There are alternatives to Google Alerts. I don’t know anything about them, but I think I am going to try at least one to see how it does. I think some of them involve paying money to them. No thanks.

You might ask me … “why then do you use Google Alerts?”. That is simple enough. I do it for you … those who read this blog. I am always looking for stuff concerning tadpole trikes and Google Alerts can be a big help at times.

Well, at least now you know … if you are one who subscribes to Google Alerts for recumbent/tadpole online postings and haven’t ever had the misfortune of clicking on one of these malicious links that have become all too common at least now you have been forewarned. In short … “DON’T CLICK ON THAT !!!”  But do try to …

KEEP ON TRIKIN’

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a couple of post scripts follow …

Just in case you are not aware of it you can place your cursor on a link and see what the link actually is as it is displayed on the very bottom left side of the screen. Don’t click on it, just leave the cursor there. Here is a screenshot captured of my blog page showing this posting. I have circled the link in red. You can see the words “alternatives to Google Alerts”. Down along the bottom of the browser window where I have the two arrows you can see the website url (address) the the link goes to. This can be very handy and useful when trying to avoid malicious websites. Often times the link might look legitimate, but in reality it goes to an address altogether different than what the link indicates.

url link display

For what it is worth clicking on this link has had two results. The first time I clicked on it I had the horrific experience I have mentioned above. The second time I clicked on it it opened up what seemed to be a legitimate website, but it had absolutely nothing to do with tadpole/recumbent trikes. Again, this seems to be all too common anymore … using various search terms to send traffic to some website like this. Welcome to the real world we live in.

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And from my Used Trikes For Sale page I have this posted:

“Another option is to sign up for Google Alerts.

Actually this option is a great one as it not only lists lots of trikes for sale but anything else related to recumbent tadpole trikes. Google will send you an email showing you whatever is being posted online about whatever you enter as the search criteria.

Be sure to select “as it happens”, “everything” and “all results” so you will find out about trikes for sale which have been posted online as quickly as possible. Select your “Language”, “Region” and provide your email address. I would suggest creating a Google Alerts for “recumbent trikes” and “tadpole trikes”. It doesn’t seem to make any difference as to whether you use trike vs. trikes in your search criteria. Upon creating the alert Google will send an email to you with a link you must click to confirm the alert setup process. Cancelling these alerts is simple enough although you may want to keep receiving them if you have an interest in tadpole trikes.”

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About Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, and truthtoponder) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at stevenewbauer at outlook.com

Posted on September 4, 2016, in misc., news and interviews, tadpole trikes, tips and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. You are absolutely right Steve as I have run in to that problem a few times myself…! And you are equally right as you can only pull the plug or disrupt power to your computer… And it is not a good thing to do but it is the best thing you can do.. I know it sounds crazy but if you don’t you will soon be talking to some people about malware and that is a very big problem.. Windows is not bad you just need to get the right soft ware to prevent these things from happening… I thought it was just another way for them to get me to spend money and those things would still happen anyway… But I just got a new computer and this time I said I would get the software, and I don’t get those problems as the software stops me from entering the site letting me also know it is unsafe and has malware associated with it… I guess even Mac has those problems as well but just not as bad I guess….! But another great topic, even though it is not directly related to trikes… So thank you…!
    Armadillo Zack

  2. I’ve been having the second one happen: the voice, the freeze, etc. I’ll be on a perfectly normal site (including Facebook), and the stupid thing interrupts; it also says that something’s been closed so that THEIR system won’t be harmed. I use Task Manager to shut Google Chrome down instead of hitting the power button. I tried to submit the URL to Google and got a message that the service was down. I ran a security scan, and nothing untoward showed up. I use Windows 10.

  3. May I post your blog post/warning on Facebook? I’ll eliminate identifying material. I think I described this sort of thing on there to someone, but yours is much more clear.

    • Sure. I never have a problem with someone sharing/using/linking anything I have posted anywhere. I sure have a problem with those who do have a problem with it though. I don’t know as though my “explanation” is all that good to share, but you are welcome to if you want.

  4. A story:

    Last year, while visiting with my mom out of state, she called me into her computer room because one of these voices and associated written warnings appeared on her screen. She was very worried, because it gave a sinister message, and was telling her to call a certain telephone number to resolve the issue. Another time with her computer, the dialog box said something about visiting a linked website immediately to avoid destruction to all her computer contents. Of course, for mom, this all looked very intimidating, and no matter what she did, she was unable to click out of the mess once she got into it. I killed the power to her computer, and asked her to go busy herself doing something else while I tracked down the issue. Both of these separate incidents revolved around a company attempting to sell certain software to frightened users that would prevent such occurrences in the future.

    My mom runs Windows 10, the latest version, on her Core i5 computer, one I had recently acquired for her, with all the power anyone could ever want. Once she left the room, I got to work, kind of like Sherlock Holmes would do, sleuthing the dark alleys of cyberspace to ferret out the mischievous, and annoying, problem and perpetrators.

    The FIRST thing I do in situations like this is to open a search engine (such as Google), and type in the EXACT written wording found in the unwanted dialog box(es). This always brings up a score of hits because many computer users are experiencing the exact same malware messages across the world. When this occurs, it is always already very widespread – mom was not the first or only one by any means. Now, while the results I’m going to share may vary with your particular event(s), the way to go about solving them all is very similar, and that is learning within a few minutes from dozens or hundreds of other computer users what they found out, and how they solved it. I have never had this method of learning about the cause fail for me. Usually within about ten minutes or so, I have a good understanding about why it’s happening, and how I go about ending the madness.

    My mom downloads a ton of “free” stuff, and generally is unaware of problems with clicking through on smiley faces or other “offers” that she sees. I have however, brought her up to speed on what not to do, and if ever in doubt about anything strange, leave the situation immediately, or kill power to her computer at the surge protector if the malware locks it up entirely, which is common, because it forces unwary or unsavvy computers users to panic and do what the screen is so officially ordering them to do. This type of thing panics most users because most users are not experts with computers and software.

    Here is what happened on her two occasions (again, may be a different source of the malware, with a different message or demand on what it wants the user to do, but still, there are underlying similarities in these unsettling attacks during an otherwise peaceful computer session.

    She wanted some games installed on her new Windows 10 system, so I acquired some for her online. In the other occasion, I installed a program that seemed like it would assist her in ferreting out malware automatically, which would be good because I live 1000 miles away, and can’t always be conveniently at her call to solve these issues.

    In her incidents, the companies involved were no malicious, in the sense that they were going to destroy her computer documents or computer system. They were attempting to sell legitimate software to end-users, but of course, they were using a shady and inappropriate manner in doing so: scaring the daylights out of most people, so those people buy the software that is supposed to stop malware attacks in the future. Clearly, such a company is using tactics that are underhanded and wrong by creating a false problem on the screen so the user responds defensively to solve it and keep their computer in tact.

    If she would have purchase the software from the company, this problem would indeed not occur again because the company has coded into the software to eliminate the offending code that they inappropriately placed on the user’s screen. By using the search solution I mentioned earlier, I read numerous accounts of others who had gone through this, and I discovered the underlying software we had downloaded onto her computer, so it was a rather quick matter of following expert instructions others had provided to delete everything necessary from her computer, which immediately solved the issue on the subsequent restart.

    What Steve has described here in his post may well be different in the details, but it is rare when a malicious programmer is out only to destroy people’s computers because that programmer doesn’t make any money doing so – he only gets some sick pleasure in knowing that strangers out there are pulling their hair out with panic. The majority of these sounds, voices, and dialog boxes have an end-goal of having the computer user pay money for software that actually does perform a purpose (and solves its own problem in the process), but that is no way anyone should be acquiring such software. For Windows users, purchasing legitimate and well-known software to do this job is money well spent.

    This type of thing is seriously frustrating for me, even though I am able to solve the issues successfully, and I feel sorry for folks like my 89 year old mom and my sister, who can fall victim without having a clue what happened – and, they always think it’s real, and they are going to lose their data as the voice/box says. This is one of the predominant problems with running a computer using Windows software. Windows has the lion’s share of users of Planet Earth (I’ve heard over 90%), so these cyber predators of course write all their code to attack Windows computers – makes perfect sense. Macintosh uses a Unix base, thus is immune from much of what continues to hit Windows users year after year with clockwork precision. Although, with Apple making such a powerful resurgence after its bankrupt years, I am sure there are some malware predators who are going after the Apple systems (Mac).

    I have been using Linux operating systems since 2009, with a perfect track record of no attacks no matter what I do, what I download, or websites I visit. I have used several different Linux subsystems, but three years ago I settled on Linux Mint. Virtually no predator codes for Linux because statistically hardly anyone uses it (percentage of total computer users worldwide – clearly, thousands of people use Linux in its multiple iterations, but not enough to make it worth the malware developer’s time and effort – why go after Linux when you can affect hundreds of millions of users with Windows?). Criminals want the big fish in the pond!

    Bottom line here is that I cleared up my mom’s issues by about 15-20 minutes worth of serious online searching and reading, and then just followed advice given by expert computer users in what to delete from the system. Every problem on her computer has been solved successfully using this method, albeit an upsetting process to go through. I was going to install Linux on mom’s new computer, but she likes certain games, and Linux, while offering more and more such entertainment over time, simply comes up short compared to Windows, and since she spends a lot of time playing her favorite games, I hated to yank it all out from under her. I want her to enjoy her sunset years.

    Now before anyone run out and install Linux on their computer, a bit of advice is in order. Historically, Linux has been more of a “geeky” operating system, one that average Windows users would not understand well enough to avoid perplexing operational issues. This has improved substantially in the last five years, especially with Linux Mint, a version of Linux the is aimed squarely at making a Windows-to-Linux conversion as pleasant as possible for non-expert computer users. Until my sister got a new computer this past year, she was running Linux Ubuntu, and she mastered it well during one of my visits with my assistance. When we got her a new mega-powerful laptop with Windows 10, she wanted to try it for a while to see how it went. So far, it’s still getting the job done well for her.

    On the computer I am now using to type this, an Intel Core i3, I bought it with no software operating system installed (in other words, an essentially worthless computer for the average user). I did this because once before, when I originally switched over to Linux from Windows, I had to delete the Windows 8 OS, which in 2009 was not that hard to do for an expert user. This time around on the new desktop computer, I didn’t want to mess with deleting Windows, primarily because Microsoft has taken extraordinary measures to prevent people from doing just that. Deleting Windows 10 to replace it with Linux is as close to impossible these days as one could envision (especially for novice or average users). Besides, I did not wish to pay the $89 charge for Windows 10 that is tucked away when you buy a new computer from a normal “big box” computer mega-store. I got the new computer with no OS, loaded Linux Mint on it, and sailed away into computer bliss.

    Okay, those are my two cents on this. And yes, I realize that there are different issues out there, and what I describe may differ from what others experience, but solutions are found in similar manners, by searching out the precise words written or spoken on the panic screen, and learning what underlies the attack (it’s usually a profit motive in most cases). See ya’ …

    • Yes, I fully agree with you Steve. The motive for this malicious crap is to intimidate and sell software. What I don’t understand is how you are avoiding experiencing this sort of thing using Linux Mint. I too use Linux Mint (17.3) and it happens to me if and when I click on such a link. I have not figured out anyway to identify such links as malicious.

      • I suspect that you are clicking on many more links to things than I am, being that you are so conscientious about gathering information for your in-depth informative articles. The law of chance says that the more one engages in a particular behavior, the more one is apt to experience any potential negative effects of that behavior (if I pedal a tricycle three miles, I’ll likely get no flats, however, if I pedal a tricycle 3,000 miles, it’s almost bound to happen – unless, of course, I have Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, haha).

        Anyway, I get emails from folks (my mom and sis in particular), and they sometimes have a link about something I just “gotta” see. One thing I learned long ago is to never click on a link directly, but to copy the link, and then open a new tab, and paste it there, then hitting the “go” button. This is supposed to make a difference in some situations, but of course, I cannot say if there is any relevance in the examples you are mentioning in your post. Also, links often have a / with additional address appearing after it. Another thing I sometimes do, if suspicious, is to type everything prior to the / into a new tab, and see if the parent website comes up legitimately.

        With the huge amount of internet searching you are doing, your risk is higher than mine. I could be getting incredibly lucky, or it may be that my heightened sense of caution keeps me free from this stuff. There are times, for example, that I would really like to click through to something that sounds great, but there is some indescribable sense in my mind that just says “you best stay away from this one” so I defer to the fear and go on with something else. It may also be that after using these computers since the early 1990s, when I started with Macintosh, my gut instincts are keeping me safe. Who knows, but I always play it safe if in doubt (If in doubt, stay out). My background in law enforcement embedded in me a basic tendency to be overly cautious and suspect everything – I’ve been attempting to rid myself of this long-standing behavior, and believe in the basic goodness of humans, but thus far, I’m still following cop guidelines to some extent.

        If I were a gambling sort, I’d say to send me the links that lead to this stuff you have fallen victim to so that I can experiment around with them and see what I think. But then again, I’ve had my share of these ridiculous things happen to me over the years. Here is a thought regarding Linux: The Linux forums will be addressing things like this I suspect, so you might spend some time browsing them to find out why you are getting these things on your Mint system. If you do, it would be helpful to know the exact text of the dialog box. I am sure you are not the only Linux Mint user to run across this!

        Here is a place to potentially find answers:

        https://forums.linuxmint.com/

        Well, enough of my never-ending monologue today. I’m off to dinner!

      • By the way, there are 96,122 members of that Linux Mint forum, so I bet the answer is already out there! Another “by the way” here: For 11 years, after 10 years of Macintosh, I used the Windows operating system, and it was during those years that I experienced my most frustrating encounters with malware. One time, things got so screwed up that I remember re-installing the Windows system software, which, with that profit-driven company, was a pain to do because I had to convince them it was a legitimate re-install. Fortunately with Linux, I am my own master, and answer to no CyberLord like Microsoft. Okay, now, I’m REALLY off to dinner …

      • Again I am in total agreement with you about Microsoft Windows. It was a royal pain. Always various concerns with security and problems to deal with. I love Linux Mint. There is no way I would ever consider going back to Windows. There are some software programs I miss and a few features in Windows I prefer over Linux, but overall Linux gets my vote. I hope you made it to dinner. 🙂