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How Can I Tell If a Link is Safe?

August 5, 2010 by Kevin


Sometimes you come across links in emails or on websites that you aren't sure if you should click on or not. How can you tell if these links are safe? There are generally 3 things that can happen when you click on a link. The link could take you to a different page on the same site, a different site altogether, or start a download. A link can be anything from an image, to a block of text, to a single word. Your internet browser will usually give you a clue when you are on a link by changing your mouse cursor in some way.

To get an idea of what a link will do when you click on it you should look at the bottom left of your browser while your mouse is on the link. This will show you the url of where the link will take you or what it will do. Try to tell if the link is safe by first looking at the beginning. Is the website one that you know and trust? If the url is to a different website, is that what you would expect from the link? Do you trust the new website? You can also look at the url of the link to see if it includes the word “download” or ends in “.exe.” This can mean that clicking the link will begin a download. If you aren’t trying to download something, reconsider clicking the link. Look at the first part of the url to see if it’s a site you trust. For example, even though google.com/downloads contains the word “download” the website google.com is known to be safe so clicking this link is OK.

Try reading the urls of these two links by putting your mouse over the link and looking to the bottom left of your browser. Link 1 Link 2 The first link is OK but you should be cautious about the second link (I wouldn’t actually include a malicious link in this article so clicking the 2nd link just takes you to an error page). Hopefully reading this article will keep you safer on the internet! Remember, think about where you expect the link should take you and use your common sense when deciding whether to click a link!

Posted in Alerts!, Help Me Understand

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