Yesterday I received email notification of a blog comment which I should check was spam and approve or trash. It looked like spam – a couple of words and a shortened URL. But was the link important or interesting? I was a little wary and knew that this could be a security risk, i.e. don’t click a link if you’re not sure where it’s leading or you don’t know the sender. If you come across a shortened URL on Twitter, you can hover your mouse over it and the full URL will often appear – but not always. So what can you do to check out a shortened URL before you click?
Unshorten the link
Scan the link
Copy the shortened URL into LinkScanner Online or Online Link Scan. They’ll scan the site and alert you if there may be a problem following the link. Or if you have time and want to try multiple antivirus engines, try the scanner at URLVoid.
After you click the link
After you’ve decided to click, browser plugins like McAfee SiteAdvisor and WOT (Web of Trust) provide another tool you can use to alert you of known dubious or untrusted sites. I use McAfee and have found it to be fine. There are free and paid versions. The download link to the free limited version (SiteAdvisor) is currently at the bottom of their Downloads page. Web of Trust is also highly regarded in this fight against ‘clickjacking’ and avoiding malicious sites.