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What to do When You've Clicked a Malicious Link?

Piper Rundell

September 29, 2023

What to do When You’ve Clicked a Malicious Link

“I’ve clicked a malicious link, what do I do?”

First of all, you’re not alone. In 2022 over 300,000 individuals fell victim to phishing and with cybercriminal expertise growing every day, cyber threats are becoming an increasing concern for average internet users. It’s nearly impossible to tell a good link from bad and accidents happen on a regular basis - so many accidents happen, in fact, that they lead to roughly 82% of data breaches today! So you’ve clicked a malicious link, what’s next?

What is Phishing?

To protect yourself against dangerous cyberthreats, you must first understand them. Phishing is a type of cyber-attack where cybercriminals attempt to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as passwords, personal information, or credit card numbers, by pretending to be trustworthy entities.

Phishing attacks pose significant dangers to both individuals and businesses, causing financial loss, identity theft, and data breaches. Understanding how to navigate these cyber threats is crucial to maintaining online safety and protecting sensitive information. This article will provide insights into identifying phishing links, immediate actions to take when one is clicked, and preventive measures that when implemented are designed to help you avoid future incidents.

There are many different forms of phishing, but every phishing attack shares two commonalities: a malicious link and a fraudulent identity.

How Do I Know If I’ve Clicked a Phishing Link?

Phishing is often hard to identify - according to an Intel Security study, 97% of people couldn’t pick out phishing emails designed to steal sensitive information from legitimate ones. Signs of a phishing link may include misspelled URLs, requests for personal information, unsolicited emails or messages from unknown senders, or unexpected urgent requests. Often, phishing attempts are targeted and may even use the names of people you know.

If you suspect you've clicked on a phishing link, it is essential to act promptly to minimize the damage.

Steps to Take After You’ve Clicked

Despite being careful online every day, accidents happen and here you are. So what do you do?

If you've clicked on a malicious link, follow these steps:

1. Immediately look out for a download

When you click a malicious link, it’s possible that malware was downloaded to your operating system. Malware downloaded can track your keystrokes, capture private information, access your files, and spread malicious content through your online network. Look in your system download history and browser download popups; if you see a download that may be malicious, do not open the file.

Cybercriminals also have the ability to perform “silent downloads” where malware is downloaded to your system without any signs. Although a download might not be initially prevalent, it’s possible that malware was still downloaded without your knowledge.

If you think you’ve been compromised, best practices suggest running a trustworthy malware scanner. We’ve compiled a list of free, well reviewed scanners for you to use in case of breach:

2. Don’t enter any personal information

When cybercriminals capture your personal information there are an infinite number of ways they can use it. They can deceive your contacts, access your accounts, manipulate your internet or cell phone providers, advance the cycle of phishing, and, in the worst case, steal your identity. If you’ve clicked a suspicious link, never provide them with your sensitive information!

3. Change your passwords

Even if you haven’t entered any personal information, it’s possible that the hacker has accessed sensitive data via the click alone. You should begin changing your passwords immediately. Begin updating your mission critical accounts like your bank accounts, emails, Google and Microsoft accounts, and social media accounts. These accounts are generally full of sensitive information and losing access to could result in significant downstream effects such as identity theft or financial loss. These accounts could also be co-opted and used against others in your network.

When updating your passwords remember to use a password manager and to never, ever repeat passwords across platforms.

4. Report it!

Not all heroes wear capes.  Do your part and take pride in protecting the people you care about online. Phishing is a cycle that is perpetuated when it stays hidden but if we work together, we can stop it in its tracks.

If you’ve been phished and believe it may affect your workplace, inform your superiors immediately. In a recent study 21% of remote workers said they would continue working as usual even after falling for a phishing attack and 9% said they would wait until after the weekend to report it. These bad practices are catastrophic.

Report any malicious emails to your email provider immediately and use Whag’s community Blocklist to report malicious URLs ASAP.

Potential Risks and Consequences of Clicking on a Phishing Link

Clicking on a phishing link can lead to a myriad of consequences including exposure of personal data, financial loss, and identity theft. Cybercriminals can gain unauthorized access to your accounts, steal sensitive information, and commit fraudulent activities. Understanding these risks is crucial in maintaining vigilance and protecting oneself from cyber threats.

Tips for Preventing Future Incidents

To protect against phishing and other cyber threats, adhere to the following best practices:

  1. Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Communications: Treat unexpected emails, messages, and social media requests with caution.
  2. Use Security Software: Employ reputable security software to protect against malware and other threats. Use Whag to report malicious links to the Blocklist, protecting everyone in the network.
  3. Educate Yourself: Stay informed about the latest cyber threats and learn how to identify phishing attempts. Follow our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to stay updated on breaking phishing news, developments in the cybercrime space, and how to stay vigilant online.
  4. Use Verified Links:  Make it easy for everyone to tell a good link from a bad one by creating and sharing Whag’s Verified Links to your online circles. Every person who clicks on a Whag Verified Link will know who created the link and where it’s taking them.


Navigating the cyber world safely is paramount in this digital age. By understanding the nature of phishing and other cyber threats, recognizing the signs, and taking immediate action, individuals can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to these attacks. Employing preventive measures and staying informed are crucial steps in maintaining online safety and protecting sensitive information.

Whag is an innovative online platform that verifies URLs to prevent successful phishing attacks. It allows users to create and share Verified Links, authenticated by connecting various social media platforms, which ensure a safer and more secure online experience. By using Whag, users can easily distinguish between legitimate and malicious links, share trustworthy links with contacts, and establish credibility in online circles. Sign up today and help us fulfill our mission of creating a trustworthy online environment for everyone!