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How to check a link is safe before clicking on it

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Security BlogNo comments

Check links with link scanner

With one click online you could either end up reading an amazing story or having someone try to steal your personal details! Online you are sometimes no more than one click away from danger; it really is a minefield out there. It is more important than ever nowadays to not click on malicious links, as the scammers have become ever more sophisticated, but how can you tell the good ones from bad ones? We think that one good tip online is: If it seems too good to be true then it probably is too good to be true!

Sadly, the best security software will not necessarily protect you from the problems that you may encounter if you do click on an unsafe link. Such unsafe links will likely appear to be shortcuts to viral videos, disturbing news stories and amazing offers but they are simply there to either steal your personal information or even hijack your computer itself, with subsequent problems likely to ensue!

Malicious and unsafe links can be passed on by unsuspecting friends and family in emails, Facebook posts, and even instant messages. You may encounter unsafe links in website adverts and Google, or other search engines search results too. To check for suspicious links, here are some free, quick and easy solutions to help you, none of them require you to download any software.

  1. Hover Over the Link

This may seem too simple but can be very useful, as hovering over a link before you click on it can pay dividends. This is because the link may mask the website to which it links, by using deceptive words such as ‘You are a winner’ or ‘Click here to claim your prize’. Just hover over the link without clicking it, you will then see the full URL address of the link’s destination in the lower corner of your browser. If it seems dubious do not click on it!

  1. Use Link Scanners

There are some free online resources called Link scanners that can help, these are websites or browser plug-ins that check any suspicious link that you enter for safety. We like Scan URL and URLVoid. Basically, URLVoid and Scan URL scan suspicious links using multiple services including Google, MyWOT, and Norton SafeWeb, reporting results to you quickly.

  1. Checking Shortened Links

If you use Social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook then you will have seen many ‘shortened URL’s from services such as bitly, goo.gl, Ow.ly, and TinyURL. To scan these ‘short-links’ you can use services such as Untiny or Sucuri. These types of services will automatically expand the short-link, utilising the services of Google, Norton SafeWeb, and PhishTank, in order to determine if the real underlying link is safe.

  1. If in doubt, leave it out!

If you are in any doubt regarding a link, then DO NOT CLICK ON IT, simple advice but sadly disregarded by many!

  1. Make sure you enable the Real-time or Active scanning options in your anti-malware software

To have the best chance of detecting malware before it infects your computer, you should enable the active real-time scanning options provided with the anti-malware software that you have installed. It is of course always best to detect malware when it is attempting to enter your system rather than after your computer has been infected by it.

  1. Always keep your Anti-malware and Anti-virus Software up to Date

When your anti-malware and antivirus software has not been updated with the latest virus definitions, it will not be able to catch the latest known threats that could potentially infect your PC. Always make sure that your software is configured to auto update mode; regularly check the date of the last database definitions update to ensure updates are indeed taking place.

  1. Unsolicited Emails with malicious links

Be wary of unsolicited Emails, because growing numbers of them are simply phishing for your personal information. They will often contain malicious links that can do you harm online, so make a point of always avoiding them!

Remember one thing, no matter how good your anti-virus software and Malware removal tools may be, none of them will stop you from clicking on a suspicious link! This means that you must exercise some common sense in all of your activities online, because there will always be someone out there that wants to catch you out!

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