.gov URLs: The Latest Source of Email Cyberscams

By this point, we’re pretty good at detecting email hoaxes that tell us we’ve won absurd amounts of money or scams that ask us to send electronic banking numbers to get friends out of trouble in foreign countries even though you know they haven’t traveled anywhere but the newest cyberscam involves shortened .gov URLs. Short for legitimate Government websites, the latest scams use URLs that end in 1.USA.gov.

.gov? Aren’t those Government URLs that we should trust?

Yes and no. .Gov is a top level domain reserved for government agencies within the United States.  They have always been regarded as sources of trusted and reliable information at least until today.

According to today’s news broken by Slashdot, latest scammers have figured out how links created through a collaboration between USA.gov and link shortening service, bitly.com, and sent through emails or newsletters can be used to redirect users to faulty websites.

How can you protect yourselves against this latest scam using links including 1.USA.gov?

Here are 3 things you can do:

  • Think before your click. With this latest scam, it’s clear that scammers are taking advantage of our trust in sites that include .gov in the link. Stay cognizant that links might not always what they seem and think before you click, especially when looking at links that are coming through social media tools like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Check the source of your email. CNN suggests that gMail users click on “show original” in order to view the original source of the email. If you see lines of text that are letters and numbers, that code signifies a phishing scam designed to harvest information from your email.
  • Don’t click on links unnecessarily. Clicking on bad links can contribute to the installation of malware on your computer. Not sure what malware is? Read my Malware 101 post for the 4 most common forms of malware.

3D illustration of domain names via Shutterstock

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  1. by .gov Now Used for Cybercrime | Tech Savvy Mama

    On November 9, 2012 at 8:09 am

    [...] Let’s hope this gets shut down sooner rather than later but in the meantime, I’ve shared 3 things to do to protect yourself from malware that could be part of this latest cyberthreat over on Parents.com. [...]