Determining if a Link is Safe or Not Before Opening It

Martin Wilson

Jul 15, 2022

Even if you have the finest security software, clicking on an insecure link will still result in problems. Unsafe URLs are shortcuts to amusing movies or alarming news headlines but are meant to steal your data or take over your machine.


Emails, Facebook postings, and instant messaging might include harmful links that your friends may not be aware of. Ads and search results may also include dangerous links. Check for malicious connections with the help of these link-scanning tips. You don't have to download anything to use these options, and they're all free.


Ways to Determine Scam Links



1. Verify Links in Emails


An email that appears to originate from your bank is a frequent phishing tactic. "Verify" by clicking a link in the email is the most common method for scammers. Emails from your bank asking for you to click on links in unwanted emails are typically the work of scammers.


Do not click on the link, even if it appears on your bank's website. Enter the internet address of your bank's website into your computer browser, or click on a bookmark to go there. Unsolicited messages from your "bank" are no exception.


2. Use ScanURL


ScanURL is an impartial link inspection tool that takes your link inquiry inputs seriously through a secure HTTPS connection. It is ad-supported, but the results are excellent. It's also helpful to explain where you spotted the URL to steer clear of it for future readers.


As part of its Whois lookup, ScanURL consults PhishTank, Google Safe Browsing Diagnostic, and the Web of Trust to see who owns the domain in question. In addition to ScanURL advice, the returning results will tell you immediately if you should go to the website.


3. Use a Link Scanner



It is possible to scan a suspected link for safety using link scanner websites and plug-ins. URLVoid is one of several free and reliable link scanners; I recommend it as a starting point. URLVoid analyzes a link utilizing numerous services, such as MyWOT, Google, and Norton SafeWeb, and delivers the findings to you in a matter of seconds.


4. Don't Open Links with Strange Characters


URL encoding is a technique certain virus distributors use to mask the final location of malware or phishing sites. URL encoding, for example, converts the letter A to a percentage value of 41 percent.


Malware distributors use encoding to hide the locations, instructions, and other bad stuff included within a link. To determine the precise URL destination, use a URL decoding tool such as URL Decoder.


5. Take Help from Phishtank


In place of virus detection, PhishTank focuses on letting you know if a link is secure or if it will direct you to a phishing site. PhishTank will investigate any URL you provide that you believe is a phishing activity.


Any time you click on a link already "in the tank," you'll see results immediately. Otherwise, a tracking number will be provided by the site. Unfortunately, checking a phishing link is more difficult than checking a malware link automatically.


Afraid about being duped into disclosing personal information on websites? If you've ever heard of identity theft, you know it's frequently the result of phishing scams. When in doubt about the safety of a link, head over to PhishTank.com.


6. Safely Copy a Link


So how can you rapidly but safely retrieve a URL from URLVoid and Sucuri without having to open it? Easy. If you're using Internet Explorer, right-click the link to bring up the context menu, then select Copy shortcut, Copy link location, or Copy link address, as appropriate (in Chrome). Your clipboard is now populated with the URL, which you can enter into any search engine.


7. Beware of Short Links


It is impossible to use URLVoid with services like bitly, ow.ly, and TinyURL since it does not support the abbreviated URL format. Sucuri is a great tool for scanning the strange short links you'll see on social media. Sucuri checks several services, including Google, and PhishTank, to see if the short link leads to a safe website. While Sucuri can scan non-shortened URLs, URLVoid has a wider range of sources it examines.


8. Malware Removal Tools


Use any active or real-time scanning features that your anti-malware software offers. It's best to catch malware in its tracks rather than after it's already infected, even if these alternatives take up more system resources.


9. Keep your Anti-Malware Programs Up-to-Date


If your anti-virus or anti-malware software doesn't have access to the most recent virus definitions, it won't be able to detect the most recent dangers to your computer. Your program should be updated automatically, so check the date of its most recent update to ensure it's working properly.


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