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Preview Tiny URLs For Your Safety

Tiny URLs are often used in e-mail, Twitter, and other places to shorten a long URL into a much more convenient, short version. For example, they're those little URLs that contain bit.ly/HoyGZj or something similar in the address.

There is a potential security risk by clicking on Tiny URLs. Unless you are able to place your cursor over the Tiny URL and hover there is no way to know where that URL is going. It could be a map, or the pictures of your friend's vacation. Or it could be a malicious web site that hijacks your computer and installs a Trojan or keylogger without your knowledge.

It is vitally important from a security perspective to hover over any URL to make sure it's sending you somewhere you trust before clicking on it. But without a plug in, tiny URLs only show the shortened URL when you hover over them.

So you take one of two security precautions:

  1. Never click on a shortened URL.
  2. Install the plugin by bit.ly called Preview Plugin, which lets Firefox and Chrome browser users see the whole URL that a tiny URL will redirect you to.

With the bit.ly Preview Plugin for Firefox, whenever you hover over a bit.ly URL on any web page, they display a tooltip showing the Page Title, Long URL, and any Click Data they have about the page the URL links to. If you hover over another short URL, http://tinyurl.com/5qhkwo , for example, they show the Page Title and Long URL for these links as well. Plus, they check to see if anyone made a bit.ly link pointing to the same place, and, if so, we show how many clicks it has received. All this info should help you decide if a link is worth checking out or not. You can find the Preview Plugin at http://bit.ly/firefox-extension

For those that use Chrome, you can also download a Preview Plugin at http://bit.ly/chrome-extension that allows you to preview metrics and page titles for bitly and bitly Pro links before you click them.

These plugins allow you hover over any bit.ly URL or other tiny URL services, and be able to see the full URL and page title. Be "socially safe and secure" by remembering to do this *before* you click on the tiny URLs.


 

Sources
Bitly Browser Extensions. bitly.com. https://bitly.com/pages/tools . http://bit.ly/firefox-extension
http://bit.ly/chrome-extension

Tom Merritt. "Preview Tiny URLs in Firefox." CNETTV.cnet.com. May 26, 2009.
http://cnettv.cnet.com/8301-13415_53-10249597-11.html?tag=contentMain;contentBody;3n

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