We are all well aware of the troubles opening a fishy link can lead us to. Luring users to click on a given link has been of one the well-known techniques to get access to the device, install virus and malware or even go as far as creating a full ransomware attack. To protect your computer and private information, there are multiple techniques to check links without opening them. What is important though is never to open the link if it is suspicious.
Visually Inspect the Link
When you are not dealing with a shortened URL, the best way to go thoroughly through the link to see if there is any spelling mistake. Attackers usually tend to change a minimum number of letters so that you are unable to tell the difference. For instance, things like www.goagle.com instead of www.google.com should catch your attention with the second ‘o’ of Google replaced with an ‘a’.
Verify that Links in an Email Come from a Credible Source
Emails are the best sources for phishing attacks. These kinds of attacks are used to steal some sensitive information such as passwords and credit card information. The best way to avoid these kinds of attacks is to authenticate the sender. For that purpose, do not only check the name of the sender, you need to double-check the email the sender is using. In general, attackers use credible sender names with emails which do not correspond to the promoted identity. Next time you get an email from your bank like “XBank”, check that the sender email is person@Xbank.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use Link Checker or Link Scanner
Many websites actually provide link checking or link scanning features. This is a very neat technique to simple check the link before clicking on it.
www.virustotal.com is an excellent website for this task. This online tool practically does the job of an anti-virus. When you go to the website, you have the possibility to analyze files and URL for malware or any other security breach. Once you submit your file or enter the URL, the website will use different tools and software, then provide you with a detailed output from each of these tools. If you are unsure if a given software is credible enough, you can compare it to the output of other platforms on a single website.
Use a Short URL Expander
Sometimes attackers try to shorten URLs to hide any malicious intention. Analyzing shortened URL is not straightforward. To overcome this problem, copy the provided URL without opening it and use specific websites that actually expand the provided URLs. Then, you can analyze the original URL for possible security breaches. Many websites are there to do this task. Just search for “short URL expander” on your search engine and use the top provided websites.
Upgrade Your Anti-Virus with Internet Security Features
Anti-virus software is commonly used to protect personal computers from viruses and other malware. While these are available for free, you can easily upgrade them to include internet security features for a small monthly fee. This will bring major improvement to your internet browsing experience including custom-made safe browsing tools.
Use Google Transparency Report
Google provide a nice tool to check for the safety of websites. To do so, visit https://transparencyreport.google.com and enter the URL in question. The Google source will then provide you with a safety report of that website.
Simply Hover Over the Link
The nicest solution is kept to the end. When you hover over a link in your email client or web browser, a small square appears including all the information related to the chosen URL. These details can be used to give a preliminary indication whether to trust the source.
Suspicious links are everywhere! To make sure they don’t catch you by surprise, follow the highlighted and you’ll be safe to go.
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