Family Safety

Short URL 101: Watch Before You Click That Link!

By on Apr 13, 2011

After writing my last blog about the Epsilon breach and discussing how criminals may use those stolen email addresses to go phishing, I was thinking about how imbedded links can be the downfall of many a pc. I mean, we use them all the time right? I click on links everyday in social networking sites, in email, etc. I rarely get in trouble, why is that? Then it occurred to me that I pay attention to a few things before I click that link. 

 In a blog post by Linda Criddle, online safety expert and founder of LOOKBOTHWAYS, Inc. says, “If you received an email, or saw a posting saying ‘hey, check out these cool cartoons’ and saw the URL you were directed to click on was http://let-me-give-you-a-nasty-virus, you wouldn’t click on it. However, if the URL was shortened to look like, you might not take the same care – even though it takes you to the exact same malicious site.”

It is really critical to slow down and pay attention while surfing the interwebs. Here are a few things that I do to make sure I click carefully:

1.       In email, check who the email is from and make sure you know who it is or that it is from a source that you have subscribed to.

2.       Hover you mouse over the link imbedded in the email, the actual address shows up on the lower left hand corner of your browser window.

3.       In social networks, only click on links that show a preview of the link. (Twitter will show a preview if you hover over it, facebook shows a photo preview next to the link…)

4.       Never click on links to banks and credit card companies. Criminals work very hard to make phony sites look just like the site you are used to visiting. Keep yourself safe by manually typing in the address or using your bookmarks.

If you want to shorten a link and make sure you protect your friends, why not use McAfee url shortening service, That way your friends can take one look and know it is safe to click on that shortened url.

Stay safe out there!


@McAfeeCyberMom on Twitter