Does this give you "NERVOUS CLICK SYNDROME"...?
Otherwise known as CLICK ANXIETY. It's that feeling you get right before you click on that fishy looking link. Later, it's easy to say you should have listened to that "little voice". But, there are warning signs that can be a dead giveaway to tell you whether or not that link will give you a virus or send you to a phishing scam.
Warning Signs of Possible MalWare Links:
Beware of SHORTENED LINKS:
Link shortening services such as bit.ly and others are popular choices for anyone trying to fit a link into the confines of a Twitter Post. It is also very popular with Farmville and Game Players on Facebook who are sharing Game Links.
Unfortunately...link shortening is also a method used by malware distributors and phishers to conceal the true destinations of their links. And, Obviously...If a link is shortened then you cannot tell whether it is going to a good or bad destination by simply looking at it...But, there are tools that you can use to see the link and possibly it's destination without having to CLICK on it.
In this day and age you should be wary of any UNSOLICITED emails. For example: If you get an unsolicited email from your bank asking you to "verify your information" then you may be the victim of a phishing scam.
Even though this link may look legitimate it is always wise to play it safe. Instead of clicking on the link...Go to the website on your own. Do this by visiting the site through your own browser by typing in the address.
The same applies to FarmVille...If you get a strange email asking for your personal info. Visit Zynga through a different link.
Strange Characters in the Link:
URL encoding is a common practice used by MalWare Distributors and Scammers. Exactly what is it? Here's an example...Take the letter "A" and run it through URL encoding and it then appears as "%73" or some other gibberish.
Using this method...just like with link shortening, Hackers can disguise the destinations and commands of the links you are clicking. That is unless you have a URL decoding tool or a translation table nearby.
The bottom line...If you see a bunch of "%" in the link...Beware. It doesn't mean the link is harmful but it is a good sign
NOW...What can you do to Protect Yourself:
Alrighty then...Now that we've shown you about some warning signs. Let's talk about what direct actions we can take to protect ourselves.
Expand Shortened Links:
You can actually expand a shortened link by using tools such as CheckShortURL ...Or by loading a browser plugin that will show you a short link's destination by right clicking the short link. Some link expanders will go the extra mile and even tell you if a link is from a "bad site"
Scan that link with a LINK SCANNER:
There are actually a ton of tools out there that will allow you to test the safety of a link before actually visiting it.
Norton Web Safe
Let you ANTI-VIRUS do it's Job:
In order to have the best chances to detect and avoid phishing scans and MalWare it is best to enable and take advantage of any "active" or "real time" scanning options provided by your antivirus software.
This option may take more of your systems resources but it is far easier than trying to fix an infected computer.
Keep your Antivirus UPDATED:
If your antivirus software isn't up to date then it has little to no chance of defending your computer against newer threats.
Be sure that your antivirus is on AUTO UPDATE and you may even want to check the date of your last update.
Consider using a SECOND OPINION MalWare Scanner:
A second opinion malware scanner may act as a strong second line of defense. Especially if your primary antivirus fails to detect a threat.
We recommend MalWareBytes and HitManPro