Even the most secure IM user could fall prey to a virus link. I remember with great detail the first malicious virus I ever downloaded during a conversation on AIM
I was a freshman in college, with a day-old HP desktop, and a friend of mine sent a link via AIM inviting me to check out a hilarious photo.
However, this AIM buddy's account had been unknowingly hijacked and that virus link was about to become an IM security nightmare; behind the link was a malicious web site that rapidly infiltrated my new computer.
Needless to say, the virus took hold within seconds and soon thereafter, students across campus were being invited to see my "hilarious photo" with my own virus link.
Despite a strong antivirus program and even regular Internet safety practices, anybody can fall to a promising virus link.
When you receive an invitation from an IM friend to view a video or website, think before you link:
Links Sent without Notice. It is one thing to discuss a video and then receive a link from an IM friend and something different to receive a link without warning. If you receive a link, ask if its legitimate.
Context Clues. Sometimes a virus link's text can raise red flags. Call to action words like "Click Here" or "Check It Out" can be ominous warnings of problems ahead.
Subject Matter. Like the context clues above, a virus link's content can also be a good indicator as to the legitimacy of a link. Links advertising pornography, "funny videos" or other Internet-trendy material might not be all they portend.