How to Check an Internet Link without Actually Clicking It

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Warning of dangerous websiteIt is a standard warning that the Internet is full of unsafe links from phishers and malware artists and that you should be very wary about clicking on links in messages, websites, or other Internet places. But obviously many links are legitimate and you need to know the difference. If you see a link you want to use but are not sure if it is safe, here are some easy ways you can check it.

How to safely display the actual content of a hyperlink

Malware writers and phishers often disguise links. The text that is displayed on a web page can say anything. To check that a link is really related to what you see on a web page, hover the mouse pointer over the link. The actual hypertext for the link will be displayed in the lower left corner of the screen on major web browsers. Try it on this link: FreePrograms-from-BillGates.com

Read the hyperlink very carefully

Once you see what the hyperlink is, you need to decide if it is safe. If it is a well-known web site that you recognize, then you can proceed. However, the hyperlink must be read carefully. Malware writers and spammers often use web addresses that contain the names of well-known sites or software. For example, they might try to fool you with something like www.microsoft-com.bigspammer.com/windows-xp-antivirus.html. There are also a number of ways to obfuscate a web address so that the real address is hidden.  This link has a discussion of ways that web addresses can be obscured or made misleading. 

Check the target page of a hyperlink 

There are various ways to check the target of a link. One way is to copy the link to the clipboard and then paste it into some test feature. To copy a link, right-click it (not left-click) to open a context menu, then select “Copy link address” (in Chrome), “Copy Link Location” (in Firefox), or “Copy shortcut” (in Internet Explorer).  This copies the  URL to the clipboard so that you can paste it into any search field for testing. This article at Gizmo’s discusses a number of security sites where a link can be tested.

Sometimes the URL may be in one of the shortened formats from services like bit.ly, goo.gl, or tinyurl.com. This article gives sites that will reveal the actual URL behind a shortened link. There is also a website to enter and unshorten short URLs at http://www.unshorten.it/

Browser add-ons and link scanners

Of course, there are also any number of browser add-ons that can help you check out an URL so another approach is to skip copying the URL and instead rely on a browser feature or add-on to warn about potential bad web pages before you actually go there. This article lists a number of browser plug-ins and extensions that will provide safety checks for URLs. One favorite at Gizmo’s is Web of Trust (WOT).

And there you have it – how to avoid those phishing and malware links.

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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Comments

Chrome has Avira at store. Puts a tiny green or red bar just below address bar to indicate safety of site. Accurate. Just be sure to uncheck the default slider that will pop up Offers for Avira deals now then. Haven't really hit any red sites yet but I actually forget thing is even there. Wish had it for IE11 so stuck with AdBlock for it.

I have been using WOT for several years with very good success. Although it sometimes displays a cautionary warning on websites I know to be okay, I trust it very much.Kudos to WOT.
~/Lee the Geek

Nice little debate. As with most of these types of discussions, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Over the years I've come across many negative site ratings by WOT that appear to be totally unsubstantiated and unjustified. As Midnight Cowboy has already pointed out, WOT's ratings are to be taken as a guideline only, common sense also needs to be part of the equation.

That said, I recommend WOT to all my clients simply because they are safer with it than without. It's the only site rating service I am aware of that, when the user clicks on a link, intercepts the connection to a potentially bad site with a prompt, which can only be a good thing.

malwarebytes anti exploit, is also good

budchekov: As I stated I had it and got rid of it ages ago. I admit I have had my problems both with WOT and without it.  I have had no more problems with it then without it.

When I examined some of their ratings, I found many of the people were posting a lot of false information based on their ideological position rather than the stuff you are talking about. Here is a sample of the sort of stuff that gets posted.

https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/www.debbieschlussel.com

If you check there is nothing wrong with the site, it's  just people do not like her politics. Overall, I find their ratings are very unreliable, often outright malicious.

Midnight Cowboy:: Search on Mywot fraud you will find heaps of complaints.

Why don't you take your politics elsewhere, plenty of other places for Left and Right wing nuts to sling mud at each other.
@ Nice job getting the link in. Where do you get your daily talking points and assignments from....Sigh.

Its not politics and its certainly not mine. WOT do not care which sites they falsely label as bad left, right or whatever what these bad ratings do is drive their business model which is to sell their MyWot "seal of trust". In this they are very successful.

 

This is yet another assumed state that is totally wrong. As has been said many times before, WOT, or any other ratings service is not infallible but their internal process does provide the most accurate data possible from that submitted. I would recommend users read their FAQ before jumping to conclusions, including.
"When someone first hears about the concept behind WOT, their first objection is that someone could easily spam the system with tons of ratings and rate down their competitors or otherwise manipulate reputations, but that's not true. In order to keep ratings more reliable, the system tracks each user's rating behavior before deciding how much it trusts the user. WOT applies sophisticated algorithms to detect and eliminate any manipulation of reputation".
https://www.mywot.com/en/faq/website/rating-websites
There is also a Help Centre for site owners.
https://www.mywot.com/en/faq/site-owners-support/reputation
MC - Site Manager.

I never said that the ratings were motived by people trying to rate down their competitors.

It certainly however as the example I quoted shows that they do manipulate reputations.

Read the discussion here

https://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/www.debbieschlussel.com

But please read my comments on their business model.

That's the second time you've posted that Political link on a Tech forum..I Imagine we all saw it the first..

Correct I should not have had too for the point you stated. I only did it to show again that WOT despite WOT's claims can and does manipulate people reputations.

 

 

Will say it again... we are only concerned with sites related to software, and other such technical material, and for this purpose, WOT works really well.. is easy to use, and is light on browser.. as compared to other similar extensions.

How WOT ratings can be manipulated for other non-technical sites is not our concern. Let's not drag this on please.

Those are teh sites, I go to mostly. I found WOT on their ratings on these sites misleading. Sites listed in red were fine and green sites were bad. It was more trouble then its worth.

If you intend to use it, I suggest you read the comments here.

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/wot-safe-browsing-tool/

The negative comments referred to are mostly and obviously from (of course) anonymous trolls such as this one.
"A cheap website just intended to harvest user data and blackmail innocent bloggers. A company who never displays its on contact details.. Guess Why??? Because they are CRIMINALS... ". Seriously, folks must have some sort of deficiency to ever attach credence to this type of post.
Where you can tie a comment to a "real" source, such as this one.
"Put me out of business Rated
by Thomas Prendergast on July 2, 2015 · permalink · translate
In used to own Veretekk, a free marketing automated social network for people that could not afford to pay for autoresponders, web hosting, webinar rooms, etc. Even with 100s of positive reviews, Superman and his cadre of buddies destroyed our reputation, business dropped, and I lost the company from financial ruin after 20 years of running it. 1000s of people that depended on Veretekk lost there accounts as well. I made a Youtube recording about the attacks too and they managed to get one of those videos terminated and laughed and high fived over at the MyWot forum over their success."
Just a little research throws up this:
http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?11365-Inetekk-AKA-Veretekk&s=f734da30...
It is no wonder WOT users rated down such a service, and IMO the world is better off without it.:) MC - Site Manager.

Do you not see the irony MidnightCowboy when you criticise people for being anonymous? There are over four hundreds of these so-called  trolls basically saying that WOT is no good and/or a scam.  M if you read more you will find some you like better.

Anyway, I have said my piece and you yours so lets move on.


Let me close my discussion by asking anyone who intends to use WOT give it a fair test like I did.

"Let me close my discussion"

No one's stopping you....But of course you'll be back. ;)

Searching the web you will find "complaints" about everything from ObamaCare to whether Greece should remain in the Euro but as Anupam states below we are not concerned with ideological or political viewpoints. The WOT ratings of some religious websites are also targeted but we are not concerned with this either.

The fact remains I have never known anyone who had their bank account emptied or their identity stolen from entering a green rated site, but there is plenty of evidence of this happening with red rated sites. This is maybe an oversimplified example as there are always exceptions such as the 90 year old guy who smoked all his life and never went to a doctor but for the purposes of this site WOT remains one of the best tools users can employ for internet safety and we will continue with our policy of publishing green rated links only.

We may possibly make an exception for an orange rated link as per the terms of rule #17. MC - Site Manager.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/freeware-forum/announcements/3617-forum-...

I think we can agree that many sites are wrongly rated red for reasons that have nothing to do security.

I dispute that the restriction flow of information whether it be for such reasons as ideological, religious or political viewpoints is of no concern here. I would like to believe all of us here strongly believe in free expression and flow of information, I certainly do. WOT will not help you save your bank account.

As far as phishing sites are concerned they are affected by WOT, they come and go so fast that WOT does not pick them up. I know as I was testing them a short time ago for a client.  A website is stolen, a phish is setup and a few days later is destroyed or stopped.

The other problem is that WOT is so slow in changing their ratings that a site has long since fixed the problem and its ancient history, but it still rates RED in WOT. Sites that are dangerous but have a previous good score takes a long time before a warning comes up.

There might be quite a few cases of WOT abuse like the example you shared above. But, Gizmo's Freeware is about software, and our concern is how to keep users safe on the internet. For software based, or similar websites, or to just know if a website is harmful or not, in terms of spam, or malware... WOT comes as a really good service, and that's what matters for us. WOT is a really good indicator for this purpose.

For general users who know little about computers, WOT is a really good extension, to tell them in simple terms, to avoid the red and orange sites... so that they avoid the malware. Just search for a tool to remove some malware, and you will see red WOT sites turn up in the result... would people know about that without WOT? Without WOT, there would be no indication of sites at all. WOT is atleast an indicator.

This site is not concerned with political based websites, or the likes, and therefore, we are not concerned with WOT abuse in that matter. For the purpose of this site, WOT works well to keep the users safe, and that's what matters, and therefore, we will continue to recommend WOT to the users of this site.

Much of this I have answered already Anupam but let me say few users that come here know little about computers.

 

Did not get what you meant to say. You mean to say that mostly people with knowledge of computers visit here, or that mostly people with little knowledge?

We have found that many people visit the site who have little knowledge about computers. I personally was one of them. Even in my circle of family and friends, I have found them running browsers without an adblock extension, or without WOT. Result... they get infected by malware, by downloading stuff from a bad site.

For them, an adblock extension and WOT reduce the risk by a lot... a real lot. If they don't see ads, they won't click on it. Similarly, WOT is a great service... only tell them to visit green sites, and avoid the red and orange ones.

Apart from reviewing software, purpose of Gizmo's is also to educate people and make them more aware of their safety on the internet, or while downloading/installing software. WOT serves that purpose well.

What are you doing in the sites that have such advertisements if WOT  was so good, and you are using it?

 

 

Sorry, did not get you.

This article demonstrates why Gizmo's is the best freeware website out there. The staff here do more than just provide software links....they also provide essential information to computer users to keep them out of harms way.
I have found that WOT has some false positives but your still better off using the addon than running blindly into the unknown.

Amen to that!

YOU decided it was a scam did you?
Next time your browser gets hijacked, do a search for the offending baddie without WOT, good luck randomly clicking on the 'removal' links, the majority of them are honey traps with bogus removal 'tools' which will infect your PC further.
If WOT gives a red warning it's prudent to at least check out the site before clicking.
@Typically the ones accusing WOT of being a scam are the scammers, who go ape when their site's busted.

WOT is far from being a scam. In fact if more people used it as a guide, the internet would be a lot safer for everyone. The fact remains that any service using multiple rating techniques is itself likely to be abused and attacked. The attackers too need to look at themselves in more detail as per the totally inaccurate statements made in the Facebook link above. This one is a bit more reliable.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WOT_Services
We also discussed WOT here.
http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-internet-safety-check-page-...
MC - Site Manager.