As social media is now being used as a major tool in your arsenal to promote your websites and blogs, it has started a new trend. Shortened URL’s now go hand in hand with Twitter because of its 160 character limitation, and if you also use WordPress to host your blog or website. Whenever you update your website or blog on WordPress, a shortened URL is also sent out to all your social media accounts. What might surprise you is how much we trust shortened URL’s like the one shown below sent from my own WordPress blog to my Twitter account.
If we see a link in an email, Facebook post, Linkedin post or a tweet from somebody we trust, we are more likely to click on it. Since the majority of links shared will now have shortened URL’s we tend to follow human nature and click as we assume the source is legitimate. Cybercriminals are also banking us on clicking on the links and shortened URL’s are now being used as a major tool in their arsenal.
When we click on a shortened URL do we really know who sent it and where we are being sent to? There is a very good chance that the social media account that sent out the link is trustworthy and that the link also goes to a legitimate website. Whilst these sounds like great odds, we have to look at the other side of the coin. What if the social media that sent out the link was hijacked or the social media account was masquerading as someone we can trust.
The links we click can do one of three things:
Send us to a legitimate website or blog.
Send us to a phishing or malicious website.
Send us to a website that automatically installs a key logger, malware or a virus on your computer or mobile device.
To make sure that we don’t fall victims to any malicious links, we have to check that the link we are going to click on is safe. The only way of doing this is by using a Website Malware and Security Scanner such as Sucuri SiteCheck and you can even use it on mobile devices. By doing this you are making sure that all links you access are safe. There is nothing worse than retweeting a dangerous tweet which can cause untold havoc and also tarnish your reputation.