Do you use URL shorteners for links? Be careful – you could be at risk!

URL shorteners (such as those from Google, Microsoft and bit.ly. etc) can be extremely useful for sharing links, however recent studies have revealed that they can weaken your internet security and make it very easy for hackers to access your information. Now, don’t panic, or refrain from using them just yet, first we’ll tell you why.

The issue is that these links usually contain the domain name of the site (ie, Google, Bit.Ly, Microsoft, etc) + a combination of random characters, that don’t tend to exceed eight digits. In some cases, such as Google, the default links that are shortened contain only six characters. This means that a hacker who uses a system of trial and error (experimenting with various numbers and letters until the code is cracked), can sometimes find it rather easy to find links that contain private information (address on Google Maps, privately-hosted photos, Google Drive documents, etc).

In the worst of cases, this could allow hackers to access your private files and introduce malware in the folders you keep in the cloud.

Researchers at Cornell Tech University are urging companies to improve the safety in their shortened links, but what can you do about it?

Well, that’s easy. If you send links that navigate to private information make sure that your documents have another security system – preferably ones that require a password to access them or that only allow access to registered users.

Source: Tech Source

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