If you use Twitter, you're probably familiar with so-called shortened URLs, which are a method for streamlining a link so it can fit in Twitter's 140-character limit. While shortened URLs are handy for sharing information via Twitter, they're also dangerous, according to Gary Bahadur, CEO of Miami-based KRAA Security and author of "Securing the Clicks: Network Security in the Age of Social Media."
Even if you know the person who has posted the link, it's a good idea to proceed with caution. When you see a shortened link "you do not know what the actual Web address is until you click," Bahadur says.
According to Bahadur, scammers often use shortened URLs to lead victims to a malicious software, or "malware," website.
Thankfully, you don't have to skip the links your friends share. But you should take the extra step of expanding the link to see the full address before clicking on it, Bahadur says. But that's not as simple as a mouse click.
Many of the services that provide shortened URLs have stepped up their efforts to guard against scammers, but it's also a good idea to have a tool that allows you to safely open the shortened URL, Bahadur says. TinyURL.com can help, but there are others.