Shortened links are pretty much useful at times to reduce character count as maybe due to the URL size limits at social sites or just we have to link something professionally. Overall, they’re very much easier to use very often on the internet. But with the pros of these shortened link tools, there are some terrifying cons as well. It can indeed lead to worst circumstances for you that perhaps you’ll never expect.
How Shortened Links Are Used Unethically?
You may or may not know that the malware distribution is best done through links. Do you know? We deal with the links throughout the time we spend surfing on the internet. Whether it is a general website or a social network, links are everywhere. Even files are distributed through files, so it makes it easier for defacers to distribute malicious files through links in such a way to insist our thoughts to click on them, but what is going to happen, we never know until it happens. Even it has happened to me multiple times, but I’m pretty aware of it now.
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For a malicious attacker, shortened links are handy tools. They can’t ask someone to click the link and download a malicious file directly if it contains .exe file in the end. A user will surely understand that there is a file which it is asking for a download and this way the attacker fails to trick someone.
So, instead of doing that way, attacker tries to be more tricky. Hence, the goal is to keep the actual URL hidden by using a Shortened Link tool that’ll change it’s nature entirely by hiding what it actually is. This way, an attacker can try to post such links on a busy environment to fool and trick those who don’t pay attention. Clicking on a link may lead to bad consequences, such as your account may be hijacked, an attacker may get the whole access of your system etc. What if your privacy is stolen? In fact, the worse is that you’ll never know if it happens.
How Do They Keep Things Off The Record?
Let me show you an clear example of how you can be fooled with the shortened links. Let’s make TechloStuff our target:
https://techlostuff.com (is the actual URL of the site)
Now let’s hotlink to an image file on the blog:
There is a different in both of these links; one will redirect you to the homepage and the other one to the image file. It means you know where you’re heading. But what happens when we covert them with link shortening tool? Let’s compare the results then:
Now can you spot the difference between both the links? Nope! You can’t even spot where the site is heading as it doesn’t even contains the file format of the image. We already know that these are the links of TechloStuff but we will never know if they are converted with ‘bit.ly’ tool. This is where the shortened link dangers begin!
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An attacker can convert a link to the malicious website or the file and claim it is a shocking video or news that you must check out. Most of the times, people jump into the trap and suffer what they might never expect.
Can You Detect If The Shortened Link Is Dangerous?
Luckily, yes there are some platforms that will help you to identify whether that link is safe to be clicked or going to blow you up. Through these platforms, you can easily find out that the site you’re going to visit is whether legitimate or not. Let’s take a look at them.
This one is a best platforms that covers most of the URL shortening services. Just put a short link into it, the analyzing process will begin and will come up with a snapshot of the site that you’re going to visit to let you easily know whether it is safe to visit it or not. Isn’t it the best one?
This platform will perfectly let you know where the link is exactly going to take you. Actually, it scans the jump which is going to be made by a shortened URL. So, the results will show you whether it is safer to visit the link or not.
Hopefully after reading about the Shortened Link Dangers, you’ll be more cautious before clicking on the unknown links that could be anywhere on the Internet and maybe the malicious link will look as such to catch your attention in a glance. But it is always good to analyze the link whether you’re going to download an important file or going to visit a website for information. If it is a shortened URL, then take a minute of yours to get it analyzed first and stay safe. Care is better than cure, indeed!
If you’ve ever been to this trap then share your experiences. It’ll be glad to know how cautious you are about it!
Best of luck! 🙂