Ever clicked on a link within an email and suddenly your device is super slow or you have a whole new home page? You’ve just been infected with Malware!
Good news is there are several tools available for checking links BEFORE you click on them. But first, here are a few definitions to make your research easier.
Online Search Definitions:
Link – an abbreviation of hyperlink: is the core concept/technology that allows the web to operate. A hyperlink connects one webpage to either; another document (webpage or file), or
a different part of the same document. A hyperlink is typically signified by an underline.
Shortened Link – a link that has been shortened using converter software such as timyurl or bitly. This is a popular choices for anyone trying to fit a link into the confines of a Twitter post. Unfortunately, link shortening is also a method used by malware distributors and phishers to conceal the true destinations of their links.
URL – which stands for Uniform Resource Locator: an address that identifies a particular file on the Internet, usually consisting of the protocol, as http, followed by the domain name.
HTTP – which stands for The Hypertext Transfer Protocol: is the set of rules for transferring files (text, graphic images, sound, video, and other multimedia files) on the World Wide Web. As soon as a Web user opens their Web browser, the user is indirectly making use of HTTP. Your Web browser is an HTTP client, sending requests to server machines. When the browser user enters file requests by either “opening” a Web file (typing in a Uniform Resource Locator or URL) or clicking on a hypertext link, the browser builds an HTTP request and sends it to the Internet Protocol address (IP address) indicated by the URL.
HTTPS – which stands for Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure: is the same thing as HTTP, but uses a secure socket layer (SSL) for security purposes. Some examples of sites that use HTTPS include banking and investment websites, e-commerce websites, and most websites that require you to log in. If the Web address starts with https://, you know you are accessing a secure website. Most browsers will also display a lock icon somewhere along the edge of the window to indicate the website you are currently visiting is secure. You can click the lock icon to view the secure certificate that authenticates the website.
Online Link Checking Tools:
- Google has a ‘Transparency Report’ – Type in this URL http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site= followed by the site you want to check, such as google.com or an IP address. It will let you know if it has hosted malware in the past 90 days. Or, you can go directly to the tool (https://www.google.com/transparencyreport/safebrowsing/diagnostic/?hl=en) and type in the link’s URL
- Scanurl – https://scanurl.net/ – enter the URL in the search bar for reports of phishing, hosting malware and viruses, unwanted software, or poor reputation.
- URLVoid – http://www.urlvoid.com/ – enter the URL in the search bar and receive a free service that analyzes a website through multiple blacklist engines and online reputation tools to facilitate the detection of fraudulent and malicious websites.
- For short links – use http://checkshorturl.com/ to expand the URL, making it easier to determine if it’s a legitimate link or malicious.
But make no mistake, the best defense is a good offense. An up-to-date Antivirus program will filter out malicious content before it event hits your inbox.
Keep Your Antimalware / Antivirus Software up to Date:
If your antimalware / antivirus software doesn’t have the latest virus definitions, it’s not going to be able to catch the latest threats in the wild that might infect your machine. Make sure your software is set to auto update on a regular basis and check the date of its last update to ensure that updates are actually taking place.
If you need help choosing/purchasing an Antivirus software or need help with an infected device, visit the MVTV Wireless Local Area Computer Technicians website for a list of trusted professionals in your area.
Happy and SAFE browsing!
‘Connecting Rural Minnesota’