A URL is a destination to an online location but those links could also leads to password and/or data theft, spyware, impersonation and the list goes on….
1. Do you trust this person posting or sending the link?
If we all worked online as we do in the real world, online safety/security would be greatly improved. Parents train kids to not engage with strangers or look out for strange people in certain places. Yet online, almost everyone does not behave the same. In reality, anything online is trusted more than the real world. Truth be told, cyber-criminals are doing a great job at disguising links, popups and all sorts. The untrained eye doesn’t know any better.
Back to the question. If this link is from a person you do not know or have no reason to trust, then just delete the link you’re sent. If this from a person you know or trust, let’s look at the next few question. There can be instances of the known person’s account being compromised.
2. Do you trust the platform from which this link is coming to you?
I see this as common sense really. If the link is coming through the the infamous; Email from someone I do not know, is a red flag and I’d suggest deleting the mail. Email this is the most common source for Spam and Phishing based attacks. Caution should be taken if Email is the method.
Other platforms include social media, you’re Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. The number of phishing based attacks coming through on these platforms are on the rise. Paying special attention to these would be in your best interest. The attacks range from password theft, spyware, drive-by malware downloads and more….
3. What is the link asking you to do?
Phishing based attacks are clear in what they want you to do, usually something like resetting you password, or some that you have never really seen or expected to see before.
4. Do you trust the destination?
This is a hard question to ask as links, these days, are usually shortened. Luckily, there is a way around this. You can copy URL’s to this location and expand the link to where it is really taking you. This type is mostly used in social media type attacks.
For Email based destinations, the easiest trick would be hover over the link, without clicking, and look the destination.
These 4 tips should make you more cautious about links in general.
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