Tech Tip: Spotting Malicious Links


    One of the best ways to prevent a nasty infection on your computer is to avoid going to a problematic web site from an email in the first place. But how do you tell if the link you’re looking at is not one you should visit? Avoid phishing scams and avoid malicious links by following some basic rules.

    First Off, trust no one. Or at least don’t trust the links they sent you. If you receive an email or note via social media to click on a link from somebody you know and you don’t recognize the link, call the person and verify they meant to send you the link. Their email could have been compromised or somebody is spoofing their email address (sadly, a trivial thing to do). So while it may look like it’s coming from somebody you know, it may not be and you’ll want to double-check.

    Always be wary of emails from folks you don’t know. If somebody you don’t know sends you an email that you aren’t expecting, a red-flag should go off immediately. However, there are other things to look for that should trigger your “delete me as soon as possible” reflect:

    • Vague or Irrelevant subject lines.
    • Poor grammar and frequent use of “please” in the body of the email.
    • Lack of personalization and attention.
    • Lack of details. The email is very simply stated, no product or service details are given, no reference to a mutual contact.
    • Email signature mismatch. The details of the email signature doesn’t match the sender details.

    If the above doesn’t convince you to avoid the email, you can scan the URL that the email is asking you to visit. There are a variety of online URL scanners including Trend Micro Site Safety Center, Virus Total URL Scan, PhishTank, Norton Safe Web, URLVoid, ScanURL, and others. Copy and paste the URL into a few of those services, see if anything trips.

    This will help you avoid visiting links to sites that you should be avoiding, but phishing emails can still wreak havoc in other ways. Check out our previous article on the topic and ways you can help prevent your system from becoming a mess.

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