Behind a seemingly innocuous link can hide the worst cyber threats. Discovering malicious links, however, is simple
Although hacking techniques are becoming more and more sophisticated and more and more articulated (just think, for example, of social engineering), sometimes it is the simplest and most outdated trick that makes us fall into the trap of cyber criminals and endangers our data and the computer security of our devices.
One of the techniques that is still the most effective today - despite everything, you might say - is that of fraudulent links inserted in apparently "legitimate" messages. These links can travel via email, social networks or instant messaging platforms (in some cases, as detected by the Postal Police, they can even arrive via SMS) and allow hackers both to steal data and information of the recipient and to transform infected devices into self-replicating bots. In short, behind an apparently harmless - and maybe shortened - link, dangers of all kinds can hide. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can use to recognize them and avoid falling into the trap.
Caution to Context
First of all, analyze the context in which you receive the message. Were you expecting a message from the sender, or is it an "impromptu" and completely unexpected message? Is the content of the text somehow related to your past or to common and shared experiences with the person contacting you? If the answers to these questions are "no", then you should be suspicious: the link within the message may be hiding some attempt at fraud or malware.
Another possible red flag is the grammatical form of the text. Even though the bots and translation devices used by cyber criminals are getting more and more sophisticated, automatically created (or translated) messages always have imperfections, big or small. If the text is particularly ungrammatical or hides gross errors, be careful: the real author may not even be the person who appears in the email header.
Contact the sender
Is the sender a friend or acquaintance of yours? Then contact them and ask for clarification or clarification of the message received. In this way, you will be able to get all the necessary clarifications and find out if it is a real communication or if it is an attempt of cyber scam. In cases like these, however, it is very important to choose an appropriate mode of contact: never respond to the message received, otherwise you will make a mistake that could cost you very dearly. A phone call, for example, would allow you to be sure that you are talking to the person concerned and thus dispel any doubts.
Check for shortened links
If the message contains an abbreviated link (one made up of about 20 more or less random characters, to be clear), then you can consider yourself lucky. Some online services (such as urlquery.net, unshorten.it and Check short URL) allow you to "explode" such links and know the real URL and the website you "risk" visiting. All you have to do is copy the shortened link and enter it in the appropriate form: the chosen service will visit the portal for us and let us know in advance if it is an attempt at computer fraud or not.