The online criminal fraternity have learnt how using small/tiny URL links can be used for evil instead of good. Users should protect themselves from online spammers who have begun using the functionality for criminal activities.
AVG (AU/NZ) Marketing Manager, Lloyd Borrett, said Twitter’s recent global surge in popularity has encouraged spammers and other online criminals to take advantage of the tiny URL links used within Twitter to target unsuspecting users.
“To some people small or tiny URL links look more legitimate than longer links. However, they can actually hide suspect links from people who know what to look for. Small URLs make scam URLs harder to spot for users, thus the criminals get more people clicking through to their malicious web pages.”
It’s important not to click on links from people you don’t trust. Not only are shorten links being used by scammers, below are some other reasons why you should always check the original URL first:
- The original URL may have some malware which may harm your computer
- The link could take you to a website containing adult content
- The link could be part of a Phishing scam
There are many free tools or methods you can use to help you identify where shortened links are going. Below are are just a couple of what is available:
- AVG LinkScanner – www.avgfree.com.au.
- Bit.ly links – all you need to do is add a + symbol to the end of the bit.ly address and it will take you to a bit.ly information page showing your the actual website address along with some user statistics.
- ExpandMyURL.com – a toolbar plugin for previewing shortened links in the same page you are browsing
I’m not trying to say that all shortened links are dangerous, but it pays to be aware of what you’re clicking on.
Image credit RambergMediaImages on Flickr