I just got an e-card in my inbox from HBO, and while I’m a fan of some HBO shows, I don’t know that my friends are aware of this. The subject is “You’ve received a HBO e-card”. I’m paranoid about whether I should click on the link to read the ecard or not. Should I?
I think the rule of thumb with all of these email messages is if you have to ask, the answer’s going to be “no”. That’s easy, right?
I have also received a half-dozen “HBO e-card” messages and I actually like to analyze them to see what’s going on, and before we even get past the subject line, we can see that there’s a problem: “You’ve received a HBO e-card!” Wouldn’t it be more correctly “an” HBO e-card? I’m pretty sure the crack team at Home Box Office know how to correct a grammatical gaffe even if it were an innocent mistake.
Then once you open the message, there are a couple of other warning signs: first, the images don’t load, which would never happen because they’d have been told ASAP and fixed it immediately. More, though, there’s a weird confusion between it being from HBO and being from Hallmark, as you can see below:
See what I mean? Is it a Hallmark e-card or an HBO e-card? Why would HBO send an ecard signed “Your friends at Hallmark”? More, legitimate e-cards of this nature name the sender, and this is simply from “my friends” at HBO? I have no friends currently working at the company, and if I did, I’m sure they’d send it “from Susan” or “from Mike”.
But we’re not done deducing that it’s a somewhat clumsy virus infection attempt, because Apple Mail does something really smart if you hover the cursor over a clickable link (but don’t click on it):
As you can see, this is a simple attempt for you to click on the “click here” link, at which point you’ll download and execute a Windows executable file “HBOLIVEHD.exe”. Files can have any name, but I’m 100% sure that this is going to do bad things to your PC, not give you HBO Live in HD. Nor, for that matter, is it going to reveal an e-card from HBO.
Rule of thumb, as always, is if there’s any question at all, don’t click.