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Warning: Fad diets not healthy for online security

Warning: Fad diets not healthy for online security 

“Fad diets can not only sabotage your body but can even endanger your online security,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist and vice president of global consumer marketing for ‎Intel Security. “…With diet, health, and fitness programs proving a hot topic as we head into summer, phony weight loss ads may lead people into digital traps.”

Intel Security recently commissioned MSI International to conduct an online study of some 15,000 Canadians between the ages of 21 and 51 to look into their online behaviours and attitudes towards dieting clickbait.

The study found that 85 per cent of Canadian consumers is aware of the security risks associated with opening up unknown Web sites, “but click promotional diet and fitness pop-ups regardless.”

The research revealed that when it comes to the desire for the ideal body, people may be willing to sacrifice their online security if it takes them a step closer to achieving desired results, Intel concluded.

The study found:

  • 56 per cent of survey respondents has clicked on a promotional link that offers a diet program.
  • 50 per cent of survey respondents would most likely click on a promotional link for a diet program before the summer.
  • 26 per cent of respondents is more likely to click on a promotional link or an article offering dietary tips featuring or endorsed by a celebrity.
  • 19 per cent of survey respondents has purchased a service or product from a promotional link without knowing whether or not it’s a secure site.
  • More than 40 per cent of respondents would be likely to click on a promotional link for diet programs generated by a Google search (42 per cent), with others reporting they would click links featured on Facebook (36 per cent), a website (26 per cent), or within an app that they already use (19 per cent).


“Whether due to naiveté, or a burning desire for an ideal body, people are making themselves vulnerable,” Davis noted. “The most concerning data was that most people will share email addresses and their full names if it means attaining an ideal body shape.”

Canadian respondents were willing to share information like an email address (57 per cent), full name (39 per cent) or age (40 per cent) with a website, service or company in hopes of reaching their goal weight or dream body.

Yet 43 per cent of respondents doesn’t know how to check if a Web site is secure before providing payment details or personal information.

In order to surf safely this summer, Intel security has the following suggestions:

  • Click with caution. Remember, offers from sites that seem too good to be true, such as “Lose 10 pounds in one week,” may indicate that a site should be viewed with caution. Web sites or emails might include phishing links that can lead you to sites that lure you into giving personal information to cyber criminals or download malware to your computer.
  • Browse safely. Beware of phony websites. Sites aimed at scamming consumers may have an address very similar to a legitimate site, like “Wait Watchers” opposed to “Weight Watchers.” Phony sites often have misspellings, poor grammar or low-resolution images. If a site asks for personal information, double check the URL and make sure it’s the site you intended to visit and not an imposter. Use a web reputation tool such as McAfee WebAdvisor that can help identify risky sites and inform you that you may be about to visit one.
  • Develop strong passwords. Do away with the “123321” password, and use a strong one, like “9&4yiw2pyqx#.” Regularly change passwords and don’t use the same passwords across all your accounts. As a way to improve the quality of your passwords, consider using a password manager.
  • Stay up to date. The best security software updates automatically to protect your computer. Use the manufacturer’s latest operating systems and allow security patches to be updated on an ongoing basis. Also, ensure you have the appropriate software set to conduct routine scans.

The company also recommends using a comprehensive security solution.

“Protecting all your devices with a comprehensive security solution, like McAfee LiveSafe, can help shield you from malware and other cyber-attacks,” Intel said.

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