While there is often a lot of talk about the downside of URL shorteners being that if they go down, they take your links with them, the much more obvious and real problem is that they very easily mask potentially bad sites. We’ve been seeing this more and more in both public tweets and DMs, but luckily so far most of those have just been worms meant to replicate themselves, rather than really bad viruses. But security software company Symantec released a video today to show some very bad links in action.
As you can see in the video below, clicking on just one link infected a computer a dozen or so times in seconds. Obviously, Symantec’s intention is showing this is to sell their software that helps to protect against these attacks, but the point is still a good one to make. While URL shorteners like Bit.ly have begun warning users about potentially harmful links, others don’t bother. And let’s be honest, most of us click on links from friends regardless of what URL shortener they are using.
Yesterday, Twitter was bombarded by tweets using the hashtags “beforesex,” “aftersex,” and “duringsex.” It wasn’t long before people were using those tags to send out malicious links. It’s a problem because virus makers know that any trending topic is likely to be searched for a lot, so they can just ride that wave and catch unsuspecting users who are curious to click on links.