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How to Test to See if an Email Link is Safe, or if a Website Has a Virus or Malware

Sometime you get a link — via email or on the web — that you are just not sure about. First let me say that you should be VERY cautious about any link sent to you in email — especially one that you don’t recognize.What spammers, scammers and thieves often do is to make a link look safe, but make the actual page you go to when you click on the link an alternate or virus-infested site. So BEFORE you click a link in your email about which you are unsure, take your mouse and hover over the link WITHOUT clicking it. You should see somewhere in the bottom status bar the exact content of the link (E.g. the site where the link will take you). If the revealed site in the status bar doesn’t match the text of the link, then be very cautious about clicking (e.g. if the link says www.cnn.com but when you hover over it the status bar says something different, then be careful! — see the example below).

Is the Email Link Taking you to the Correct Place?

Looking at the example below from an actual email,  notice where it says “login to mailchimp” on the right side of the picture.  When I hover my mousse (without clicking) over this link, I see the text on the bottom left of the screenshot that says, “http://login.mailchimp.com”.   The take home here is that as I said above, sometimes the text of the link doesn’t match the destination. In this case, the link text is for mailchimp, and the actual site I’m going to be taken to is mailchimp.  In this manner, I can now safely click the link because the link text is for the site that the link will take me to.

emailSafe

An just in case you were wondering, MailChimp is a mailng-list/newsletter program that I use for this site and for my new site, ClassicalWeekly.com. (And in case you were wondering once again, Classical Weekly is a FREE “classical music recommendation of the week” site that you will LOVE, and you should check it out!)

How to See if a Website is Safe.

Much of figuriing out if a website is safe to visit is based on common sense.  Sites that provide illegal downloads and the link are much more likely, for example,  to have viruses and malware than major corporate news sites.

That being said, you can never be sure, and if you want to really check a site out you can head to one of the following sites to look up if the site in question to see if there’s any information in one of the lookup site’s databases. There are many sites that provide this service but I like these two: (and I like to check both as a second opinion is almost always a good thing):

1)  AVG Web Page Scanner

2) PhishTank - (to test to see if there’s a Phishing scam on a website)

The best protection against internet threats is always just being smart:

1. Don’t click links you don’t know.

2. Don’t open email messages from people you don’t know or recognize.

3. Don’t click links in email messages from people you don’t know or recognize.

4. NEVER click a link in an email that requests your username and password for your bank,credit card  or other financial institution.  If you ever have a question about one of these types of accounts, pick up the phone and CALL.  One of the most popular scams out there is to send people a scary-sounding email about account activity and then have people click a link to a fraudulent website where the person’s information is stolen.

Be smart and stay safe!

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One Comment

  1. securenet asfales internetNovember 22, 2010 at 3:06 pmReply

    Nice post! There are many kinds of protection, and many of them are really good. But usually viruses are one step ahead. The best way to avoid them is to be smart and not to be too curious!

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