Trick or Click: How to Recognize a Suspicious Link in Everyday Life?
Updated on July 13, 2021: From now on, traffic filtering, malware protection, and suspicious DNS activity blocking are available as a part of the separate DNS Firewall app.
How many links do you click per day? It happens so frequently that we don’t even notice this. Links are everywhere: in emails from your boss, in Whatsapp messages from your friends, in advertising, in Facebook posts, etc. And clicking them has become as habitual as brushing your teeth in the morning. However, our habits can be turned against us. According to the latest news, this is exactly what cyber criminals have done with links.
As Lookout reported on January 19th, 2018, Dark Caracal, a global cyber espionage campaign operator, has been stealing internet users’ identities via classical phishing links on Facebook and Whatsapp for 6 years (2012-2018). They got hold of such private data as: SMS texts, contacts, files, call records, accounts data, and browser history. Just think for a minute, Dark Caracal received all this data merely cause somebody clicked a link. That’s why VPN Unlimited team wants to warn you and remind how to spot dangerous website addresses.
Warning! Shady links!
Statistics show that most people are no experts when it comes to suspicious URLs. According to FAU’s experiment, 56% of email respondents and 40% of Facebook users clicked dangerous links from strangers, even though they were aware of the risks. So allow us to remind you the identifying marks of our enemy:
- Altered spelling of a domain name. The most widespread trick of cyber criminals is using imperceptible “mistakes” in the URL. If you recognize any misprint, you can be certain it’s a bad link. These can come in various flavors:
- Wrong letter order. Example: http://www.pefrectcandy.com
- Wrong symbols. Popular ploys are: l=1; i=1; m=n; o=0. Example: http://1nstagran.com/
- Missing/extra letter. Example: http://facebok.com
- HTTP. The absence of the letter “S” on the end means you are using an unprotected version of the connection. That’s why we highly recommend to think twice before clicking such a link. Of course, our regular readers can notice that in one of our previous articles we’ve described how HTTPS connection doesn’t guarantee the security of your data, too. But when compared, HTTP not only looks more suspicious, but is objectively more dangerous.
- Short URLs. They became popular after netizens began sharing articles and other content on their Twitter accounts. It is mostly used in order to meet symbol limits and make the link look more appealing. But such a shortening can as well be a trick from phishers. Remember this when you see something like http://shorturl2.com/87dlfmdf.
There is a large amount of websites which let you check if a link is safe. But let’s face it, you probably won’t test most of them. We generally click something by impulse, and if you forget to check for the most common characteristics of shady links, you’ll definitely forget to test their safety, too. That’s why permanently operating private data protection might be your best option here. For this, we recommend you to use a highly-secure virtual private network, like VPN Unlimited.
Whatever link you click, our app will protect your sensitive information with AES-128 and AES-256 encryptions. This technology enciphers the traffic between your device and one of secure VPN servers. As a result, shady links won’t be an obstacle on the road to your heartsease. Also, if some of your programs don’t work with VPN software or if you don’t want to make all of your apps traffic look like that of a VPN, you can use VPN Unlimited extension to protect only your browser.