Use Caution with Shortened .Gov Links
Jackie here. Just because a link looks like it comes from a government website (.gov) doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe. Scammers utilize a little known tactic to trick unsuspecting web users into trusting links that aren’t secure. Here’s what you need to know before you click on those .gov links.
About Open Redirects
Since web addresses ending in .gov are only available to government agencies, we all tend to trust them. Scammers know this and utilize a loophole known as an open redirect to trick people into thinking they are at a .gov site when they really aren’t.
Open redirects allow scammers to insert their own link to redirect others to their site. Although redirect links are easily spotted in full form, they aren’t easy to notice when a link has been shortened. It may look like you’re visiting a legitimate link to a .gov site when in reality you’re heading right to a spammy or malicious site.
How Do I Spot this Spammy Links?
A good basic rule for avoiding spammy links is to be cautious of shortened links. Before you click on a shortened link, expand it to see exactly where you’ll be going.
How do you do this? If shortened by bit.ly just adding a “+” to the end of the link will take you to a page on bit.ly that displays the full link. You can also use Unshorten.it. If you see “redirect” in the full web address, be very, very cautious before you follow the link. Some estimates figure that about 15% of shortened .gov links are malicious.
Think before you click and protect yourself these malicious, spammy links. Learn more about open redirect scams here.