Have you ever found yourself wondering whether to click on a link or not? You have just received an e-mail, a message from a friend, or you’ve seen it in a social media post, and you are just sitting there, with your finger over the mouse button, deliberating? Well, here are some tips on how to stop guessing and deal with suspicious URLs.
Rise Above It
One of the first and easiest things you could do is just hover the mouse cursor over the link. The destination URL will be displayed in the lower left corner of your screen.
Keep in mind malware distributors will often encode the URL in order to mask its destination and sometimes even commands. Should you see strange symbols in the address, proceed with caution.
Expand the URL
Software like Bilty, Ow.ly, and TinyURL can shorten URLs, allowing users to post long links on to social media with character limitations like Twitter, for example. Unfortunately, that also makes the link virtually impossible to determine whether it is safe or not. So use Sucuri, Untiny, or LongURL to expand the link and actually see where it’s taking you.
Scan the Link
Once you’ve expanded the link, check it out with link-scanning software like URLVoid, Norton SafeWeb or ScanURL. Some of the scanners require a browser plug-in, others are on-line services, but always keep in mind – they do not provide additional protection. So…
Be up to Date
Antivirus / antimalware protection is a must, but if its virus definitions database hasn’t been updated, then it is more or less useless against the latest threats to you and your PC. Be sure to regularly update your antivirus protection, or save yourself the hassle and just set it to auto update.
Another way to minimize the risk of infecting you computer is to enable the real-time scanner of your antivirus protection software. True, it usually requires more system resources, but it is always better to catch malware before it enters your machine.
Trust but Verify
Finally, keep in mind no antivirus / antimalware software provides a hundred percent protection, so you might want to consider using a second opinion malware scanner. Checking your PC from time to time with security software will help you deal with any threats that have somehow slipped through the cracks in your security and give you a malware-free computer and a peace of mind.