Join Jess Stratton for an in-depth discussion in this video Evaluating links, part of Learning Computer Security and Internet Safety.
- I'm going to show you two techniques to evaluate links that come into either e-mail or that you'll see while you're using your social networks. The first thing that I have open is an e-mail, and you'll notice that there's several links in this e-mail. I can tell they're links because they're in blue, they're underlined, and when I hover my mouse over it, the icon changes from a pointer to a hand icon. That means I can click on it, but it's not actually telling me where it's going to take me when I click on it. These are called text links.
That means they're still sentences, and the link, that is the destination URL, where this link is going to take me, is hidden from me. However, if I hover my mouse over it, on the bottom left-hand side of the screen I can tell what URL it's going to take me to. This is through the Internet Explorer browser. Now, other browsers have similar strategies. In some browsers, the link may pop up right next to where you're hovering your mouse. Either way, if you hover your mouse over it for a few seconds, a popup will appear telling you what that link is.
Now one way that I can tell that these links are probably not something that I want to click on is because when I hover my mouse over each of these three links, I can see that it's taking me to the exact same place. In fact, this text link here is supposed to be taking me to a place where I can manage my subscriptions. Clearly, that is not where it is going. So, this is an e-mail that's going straight to the trash can. There's one more strategy. While you're using emails or other social networks, you'll see links that look like they're not going anywhere in particular.
Here's a Lynda.com link from Twitter. This is called a Bitly link. This is using something called a URL shortener. In order to save characters, and to look a little bit tidier, this URL has been taken from its long form to actually telling you where it's going to go into a much shorter, compartmentalized URL. You can still tell it's a link because it's blue, it's underlined, and when you put your cursor over it, it changes to a hand. Here's another one up here.
This one is ars.to. More and more sites are coming up with their own URL shortener techniques. It gives you more characters to actually put content beside it and describe what it is, but as a consumer and a safe web surfer, you want to know what you're clicking on before you click it. We can trust Lynda.com, but that's not always going to be the case when you're scrolling through Twitter. You may not know exactly who's posting that link, and you want to know where it goes. What you can do is right click on that link and choose copy shortcut and then come over to a website called LongURL.
LongURL can be found at http://longurl.org. This website is devoted to expanding these shortened URLs, so that you know where the site's going to go before you click on it. In the previous step, we copied that link. I'm going to click into the search box, right click and choose paste. It's going to paste my shortened link, and now I can click expand. Here I can see the title of the expanded URL, and I can also see the actual URL that it's going to take me to.
Here I can see that this is, indeed, going to a Lynda.com site for a video. If you're ever not sure where these links are going to take you while you're traveling through your social networks, you can always take these shortened URLs and run them through LongURL.org to find out exactly where that link's going to take you.
- Installing updates
- Using antivirus software and protecting against viruses
- Enabling Windows Firewall
- Using password-management software
- Encrypting files that contain sensitive data
- Securing your router and protecting the SSID
- Understanding the signs of a secure website
- Checking settings for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari
- Unsubscribing from email subscriptions
- Reviewing site privacy settings
- Browsing on a public computer
- Understanding cookies
- Protecting other people's names and locations
- Fact-checking email warnings