How to check if a link is safe before visiting

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Matthew M. White
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If you're active on social media, you might be worried about inadvertently clicking on a harmful link. Security threats such as ransomware, malware, and phishing websites pose a huge risk to internet users today. Clicking on a harmful link can happen to anyone at any time, and the consequences can vary and cause more damage than expected.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from the growing dangers of harmful links. In this article, we will show the different ways to check if a link is safe.

How to Check if a Link is Safe Before Clicking on an iPhone

There are several ways to verify a link from your iPhone. The easiest would be to use one of the many web services like Norton SafeWeb, URLVide, or URL Scan. To verify a link from your iPhone, follow these steps:

  1. Click any of these links above, then save them to your phone's home screen for immediate access.
  2. To add Norton SafeWeb or the other two services to your home screen, go to the Norton SafeWeb page and select Add to Home Screen.
  3. Press and hold the link you received.
  4. When a menu appears, click on it.
  5. Check the domain to see if the real URL of this link is valid or not.
  6. Select "Copy" if you want to be very careful.
  7. Use the short Services URL you created before to get started.
  8. Paste the URL you received and verify that it is a secure link.

These steps are useful when you don't have a computer to verify the security of a link. After implementing the steps for a while, these precautions will become a habit.

How to check if a link is safe before clicking on an Android device

The steps to check if a link is safe on Android are similar to those described above. Here's what you need to do:

  1. Access one of the web services such as Norton SafeWeb.
  2. When you are on the website, click on the three dots in the upper right corner.
  3. Tap "Add to Home Screen" for easy access.
  4. Press and hold the link you received.
  5. When a menu opens, tap it.
  6. Check the domain to see if the real link URL is still valid.
  7. If you want to be very careful, choose "Copy".
  8. Open the services short URL you created before on your home screen.
  9. Paste the URL sent to you and verify that it is a secure link.

Additionally, many of these web services also have Android apps that you can download from the Google Play Store. This makes it even easier to check links from your Android device.

How to check if a link is safe before clicking on PC

There are several ways to verify a link without clicking on it while using a PC.

Check unsolicited email links

Sending an email that appears to be from your bank is a popular phishing technique. Victims are usually asked to verify their information by following a link, presumably to the bank's website.

Do not click on the link to your bank, even if it looks real. Use your web browser to access your bank's website, either by typing the address or by using a bookmark. This advice also applies to unwanted text messages from your “bank”.

Use a link scanner

There are various link scanners on the Internet. One of them is Norton SafeWeb, which we mentioned earlier.

Just put the URL in the checkbox and hit the search button to scan it for malware. The website will then be rated and community rated by Norton Safe Web. You can create an account and join the link checker community if you want to give your own opinion.

It also has a link checker that works in the browser. The Norton Safe Search Chrome extension provides instant safe search capability for your browser's address bar. Alternatively, you can opt for Safe Search which is now available in all your search engine results with the Norton Homepage Extension. Both choices will check the safety of links before you click on them, making them perfect for safely exploring the web.

Some other similar web services are URLVide, URL Scan, PhishTank or Google Transparency Report. You should also simply copy-paste the suspicious link into the box.

Check short links

Link shortening is used by phishers and malware distributors to hide the true direction of their links. To find out the intended destination of a short link, use a link extension service like Check Short URL. Some link extension services will even warn you if a link is on a "bad sites" list.

Strange characters

If you see that a link consists of many random characters that don't make much sense, it may be a dangerous link. Malware distributors use encoding to hide addresses, commands, and other malicious elements in links so you can't see them. To determine the precise destination of the URL, use a URL decoding tool such as URL Decoder.

Use anti-virus software

Use active or real-time scanning tools offered by your anti-malware software. These alternatives may require more system resources, but detecting malware when it tries to infiltrate your system is better than catching it after your system has already been infected.

Your anti-malware or antivirus software will not be able to detect the latest dangers if it does not have access to the current malware. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date or turn on automatic updates.

How to check if a link is safe on Discord

Discord is a platform where you can send and receive direct messages, group messages or even server messages. It is always possible that you receive a dangerous link in one of these messages.

To analyze links in any text conversation, use Google's Safe Browsing API. This is a public API that can warn a user if a website is unsafe even before they click on a link.

You can also use the scan option that Discord already offers. To do this, go to "Settings" then "Privacy and security" and select one of the options. You can have Discord scan every direct message you receive, not scan your friends' messages, or not scan any messages.

Be careful

The chances of getting scammed by dangerous links are high. Use link scanners, be aware of potentially dangerous links, and keep your antivirus updated to prevent anyone from getting your personal information or infecting your device with malware. Checking links before clicking on them should become a habit for any internet user these days.

Have you ever received a suspicious link? Have you ever encountered problems after clicking on a link? Have you ever used a scanned link and which one? Let us know in the comments section below.

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