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Why you should think twice before clicking on web links?
This post covers the threats caused by clicking on web links, and how to safeguard yourself. Yes, clicking on a web link may land you in serious problems, from zero bank balance to surveillance and extortion threats etc.

Yeah, you are reading it right, web links could be a threat too, and I will explain you how and why? Web links are mostly called links, hyperlinks or just URL (Uniform Resource Locator), these links are very important for functioning of the internet, they interconnect one page or resource to another page or resource on same as well as different websites or servers.

The links which point to or take you to a different page or resource on a different website or server are called external links, and the links which point to or take you to a different page or resource but on the same website or server are called internal links or URL.

URL/link shorteners have helped many illegal acts or crimes to succeed. Most of the dangerous links are quite long containing many or less parameters, these parameters contain data/info relevant to you. As these links are long, many websites limit the length of the links which can be posted, tweeted, commented or messaged, but the hackers use URL shorteners to shorten out the links.

The most common attack a threatening link or URL does is to hijack your browser cookies or perform a forced download command to your browser. Cookie hijacking is a simple trick in which, when you click on a link your browser cookie is sent to the attacker. 

Cookies are used by many websites to store your login credentials, login status and many other useful data. Once you login on a website say for example on Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail etc. the website sets a cookie in your browser to identify your username and login status, this cookie if gets in the hands of the attackers, could be used to open/login your account without entering the username/password and without any prompts, the hacker can then do anything to your account, in most cases the account is not recoverable.

Forced download command, is a command given by a server/website to your browser to download a specific file which could also contain a Spyware (to spy your activity and do surveillance) or Malware (to make your device vulnerable and cause improper functioning) or Viruses (to completely corrupt your Operating system of your device and could also delete your important personal files and other data permanently). 

The thing which makes this process most dangerous is that, your browser cannot reject this command nor it will wait for you to click on the "Start Download" button,  also this download is hidden, you will never come to know whether any such attack is performed on you or not unless you know the technicalities, even those people who know about this process most of the time cannot notice such attacks performed on them.

To get protected from forced download command, install a good antivirus, it will detect the file and clean out possible threats, also nowadays viruses are created in encrypted form which cannot be detected by the antiviruses too.

To get protected from Cookie hijacking and unsafe links, do not click on untrusted links. Google, Facebook and Twitter also nowadays provides URL shortening services to be tweeted, posted, commented or messaged on there, so it might look to you that the shortened link is safe but it may not be. 

And if you want to open the link, then download and install TOR Browser, do not login at any site in that browser and instead copy and paste the link in TOR browser and hit enter key to view the page or resource. Logout properly from every site you are currently logged in after you are done using that site, this will set a new empty cookie and even if your previous cookie has been hijacked, it will become invalid automatically.

You also cannot know whether any of the attack is performed on you or not as they are so fast that they attack you just after you click the link and will automatically redirect you to a safe or safe looking site and all this will be done within milliseconds.

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