If you have any of the following questions on your mind that this article is for you. All your questions regarding finding out if a link is safe or not and is it a phishing link can be answered. This will help to protect your device.
- Should you click on that link?
- How do we know that the link is safe or suspicious?
- Did your friend really send you that link?
- How exactly do you differentiate between original and fake links?
- How to be safe from phishing links
Once upon a time, the URL used to be plain and simple. URLs were safe and easy to remember. There were no long and confusing links on the internet. Today with the rapid advance of the internet and billions of websites on the internet, it is no longer the world of safe and straightforward URLs.
With the rise of cybercrime data theft and phishing attacks, even ordinary people are targeted on an everyday basis. If you click on the link these days, there is a chance that your account will be compromised, the phone will be hacked and malware installed on your devices. All this with just a click of a link.
Use Virus total to check if a link is a phishing link or Not
So use the following tips to verify the authenticity of links on the internet.
Table of contents
- 1) Use a VIRUS TOTAL to confirm the link
- 2) Verify the sender
- 3) Verify the website
- 4) Do you trust the destination or what the link is stating?
- 5) Does this Suspicious link coincide with a major world event or tragedy?
- 5) Use a good antivirus
- 6) Is it too good to be true?
- 7) Funny or weird characters?
- 8)Is it a shortened link?
1) Use a VIRUS TOTAL to confirm the link
Virus total is a free website that can check suspicious links for you and help protect your device and your accounts. Just go to the site and copy-paste the suspicious link on the site. It will show you and in-depth results from various antivirus companies to see if the link is safe or not.
Check the below demo, for example, We have tested our own website MyHackingWorld to see if it shows the link and suspicious or not.
VirusTotal Result for MyHackingWorld Website (Not Spam)-
VirusTotal Result for Spam Website-
2) Verify the sender
The first question thing you need to do is verify the sender. Many times people’s accounts are hacked and then used to send spam. The person who sent you that link may have gotten their account compromised. Talk to the person to confirm.
The good news is that Google is getting better at detecting phishing emails and blocks a majority of those. But what about other messages you receive on social media. Whatsapp, Facebook is still learning how to identify phishing. It will still take a long time for them to perfect it. And hackers keep getting smarter every day.
That is why you need to be vigilant when it comes to ensuring that the link is authentic and not a phishing link. So the first question to ask yourself is, “Do I trust the sender?”
If the link in question has been sent by a friend or family member, then verify that it is they who sent it. However, if you find the link to be suspicious or you don’t recognize the name, the email account, or the content of the mail you received, then avoid the mail. Be very careful of emails that mention your name in the subject matter, and claim to be from your bank or PayPal account asking for your financial information. Banks never do that on the phone or email.
3) Verify the website
Social media platforms are always risky because there are so many unknown links on the website; it is difficult to judge. Many times these links are malicious and can compromise your account.
The question you need to ask is, “do you trust the platform?”.
If you get an amazon offer link on Facebook, for example, then do not click it. It is probably fake and a phishing link. If you want any offers to check your original amazon account, all offers are shown on their website. If you get a message saying it is an exclusive offer, it is a phishing message.
Avoid buying or giving information on social media sites. Facebook and Twitter, for example, have been known to be sources of spam and phishing links over the years. Why risk your data for something which seems too good to be true.
4) Do you trust the destination or what the link is stating?
Look at the URL of the link. Does it look like the original website? Is the website related to you? Also, verify if it is an actual website.
If you do not trust the URL or if the website seems suspicious, then do not click on the link no matter what. Please use the tool mentioned at the beginning of the article to verify the link.
Only click on links you trust. If your account gets compromised, it’s tough to restore it. Avoid the headache by taking security precautions.
5) Does this Suspicious link coincide with a major world event or tragedy?
Criminals are brilliant and use big events as a method of phishing people. You will see many emails, especially phishing emails asking for donations to save people from flood-infected areas and earthquake-prone areas. This is one of the rarely used methods to know if a link is safe or not.
Never donate without first verifying the website or message asking for a donation. Go to their official website and then donate. Suspicious links can cause a world of trouble, especially when it comes to your financial accounts.
5) Use a good antivirus
Good antivirus software has excellent phishing detection technologies along with other features that can help protect your device. Having a good antivirus is the key to being safe online, especially in today’s internet-based world. Make sure your antivirus is scanning for malicious links. A good firewall w=can also help with the same. Quickheal is a great antivirus that I personally use. There are many excellent antiviruses, like Norton, as well.
Also, Read- 7 Ways to bypass Online Surveys
6) Is it too good to be true?
If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Offers to claim that you will get an iPhone for 1$ or for free. A Pendrive for 1$ from amazon etc. are ways to tricking people with phishing. Due to greed, many people foolishly sign in to these sites and give their credit card information and other information which is used by hackers and criminals.
Never believe an offer unless you see it on the official website itself. Always beware when someone says it for free chances are that there will be some hidden catch. Make sure that you only buy from trusted sites.
7) Funny or weird characters?
If you see funny or weird charters in the message or URL, then you can be sure that it is a fake phishing email. The official website address does not have signs like “%” in the URL bar. So if you see any funny URLs like the one you see below, then you can be sure that it is a phishing email. This is one of the effective methods to know if a link is safe or not.
8)Is it a shortened link?
With the rise of social media giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, many have started using shortened URLs for sharing as it’s convenient. They originally had a great purpose but are now used by hackers for hacking and phishing on a large scale.
For example, a cybercriminal can do the following to trick even the most seasoned users into thinking that the link is original.
Shorten the phishing link using Bitly or TinyUrl or any other provider. Then Publish the link with an attractive image and a tagline from a legitimate account belonging to a real person. In most cases, that person’s account is hacked without their knowledge and is used to spread spam in the hope that someone will blindly trust the link from a trusted source. With the combined attack of attractive links with a reputed source even educated people is fooled into thinking that this link is a legitimate message from a legitimate user.
So when you find shortened links, use the below tools to check the actual link and follow the above seven tips mentioned above.