How to Test a Link Without Clicking It

How to Test a Link Without Clicking It

February 28, 2020

Everyone receives unsolicited emails with offers from companies or individuals they do not know. Any time you receive such an email, you should exercise a healthy amount of scrutiny and suspicion. Are the links included in the emails legitimate offers, or are they trying to trick you into opening a link that contains malware or some sort of virus?

The good news is there are some strategies you can take to test the legitimacy of links without actually opening them. Here are some tips for how to test a link without clicking it in St. Charles County, MO.

Be suspicious of shortened links

Shortened links that use services such as bit.ly are popular for a lot of legitimate purposes, but they are also frequently used by hackers and phishers to conceal the destination of the link. You can use a link expansion service to reveal the destination of the link—you can simply do a Google search for “link expander” and you’ll find a variety of options. Some of these sites will even tell you if the destination link is on a list of suspicious or otherwise “bad” sites.

You can also find a variety of browser plugins that will tell you the link’s destination if you right click the short link in question.

Watch for unusual characters

Another method hackers use to conceal the destination of a malware-containing link is to use URL encoding. Under URL encoding, the letter A, for example, turns into %41. This type of encoding allows bad actors to conceal the destination of the link so you aren’t able to read it. You can use a URL decoder to figure out the destination of the URL. Any time you see strange symbols or characters in a link, you should be immediately suspicious.

Be careful of links asking you to verify information

Another common phishing tactic is to send emails that are disguised as having come from a legitimate source, such as your bank or a company with which you might have investment accounts. They might send emails asking you to verify your information by clicking a link. You should carefully investigate who the email is from and what the email looks like. It if comes from an unsecured or untrusted source, or if you don’t have any reason to believe your bank or another business you work with would send such an email, you should automatically be suspicious.

If you do decide you want to check and see if there’s information you need to verify with your bank, you should go directly to the bank’s URL rather than clicking the link in the email, and log into your account from there. If you log into your account and don’t receive a message about needing to verify information, you can safely assume the message was an attempted scam.

Want to learn more about how to test a link without clicking it? If you’re interested in more information about how you can protect yourself from potentially damaging links sent to you in suspicious emails, Computer Paramedic encourages you to contact our computer store in St. Charles County, MO today.

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