Shortened URLs

-by Al Ferretti and Skeeter Hansen

Twitter blocking Malicious shortened URLS?

Skeeter and I began engaging on Twitter in December of 2008. Since that time we have seen
Shortened URLS used as the primary link in updates (aka tweets). It makes good sense to use these shortened URLS considering that some URLS seem longer than the Mississippi River and a twitter user only gets 140 characters per tweet.

Personally, we love the shortened URLs. The downfall, is that we don’t really know whats on the other side of these short links. What we do know is that many spammers and hackers are taking advantage of “certain” shortened URLS by hiding malicious infectious sites behind the URLS.

The good news is Twitter appears to be blocking Malicious shortened URLS now. For example, users that try sending tweets that link back to known infected sites get a new message on their main twitter screen that says: “Oops! Your tweet contained a URL to a known malware site!”

If you use a 3rd party twitter client, tool or app like tweetdeck or tweetlater that has a shortened URL integrated within their system, keep an eye out for the blocking malicious shortened URLS. Afterall, its for the good and for everyones protection.

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19 Responses to “Shortened URLs”

  • avatar Lee says:

    Hi guys, love your updates. Another good piece of news depends upon the service you use and browser plugin availability. For example, one shortening service I use with some services is bit.ly and the FireFox plugin reveals the destination of the target URL as well as the number of clicks on that link. This, too, can protect you.

    Cheers, Lee

  • avatar Simon says:

    This is very good information. I will be signing up to get more details on twitter watchdog

  • Hi Lee,

    Thanks for adding the helpful tip.

    Have a great day~

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • Thanks Simon~

    Thanks for allowing us to serve.

    Glad you liked the info.

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • avatar Ernest ODell says:

    Al and Skeeter, I have been having similar problems with TinyURL.com as it is being blocked by my ZoneAlarm firewall. Can’t get around it with exceptions, either.

    However, I have been using Go2-URL.com (http://go2-url.com/) for several years now, and have never had a problem with them. To my knowledge, they have never had a problem with malware/trojans/viruses, etc., but given time, I guess hackers will probably hit them, too.

    To date, they’ve been doing great as they are one of the “lesser known” URL re-direction and shortening services. They’re still free, and you have an unlimited number of URLs you can put into their system.

    I guess I could leave it to you guys to check it out and see if it’s worth recommending.

    Sincerely,

    Ernest O’Dell
    Guerrilla Real Estate Marketing
    http://twitter.com/guerrillamarket

    @guerrillamarket

  • Ernest,

    I was unaware of that one. Will look into and keep an eye out too~

    Thanks for sharing that comment, very helpful~

    Enjoy your day,

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • avatar kelly says:

    Thanks for this post! Some shortened URLs are false positive. Eg. tweetbucks.com shorten decent science URLs and yet the re-directed bitl.y links say the link may be malware or phishing site EVEN before the shortened link has even been tweeted. This made me stop uing tweetbucks.com (for now!)

  • avatar Bryan Quinn says:

    It’s certainly good news that twitter is blocking the malicious shortened URLs. What also may be good idea is for twitter to blacklist those who use the same malicious URLs repetitively.

    Thanks for the info

    Bryan

    @bryanquinn

  • avatar Kimpup says:

    This is the one thing I’ve always been leary of in Twitter! Too bad they couldn’t develop a system that let’s us use the raw url and it doesn’t count towards our 140’s!!

  • avatar Mike says:

    Thanks for the info about malware and shortened URLs. So what is safe to use: tiny, bit, any others?
    Mike

  • avatar Al Ferretti says:

    Thanks for the comment.

    There are programs that enable that.

    Check back. I’m sure someone will share the programs they use that displays where the Short URL is pointing to. That way its not blind..

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • avatar Al Ferretti says:

    Thanks for the question Mike.
    Tiny and bit are fine.

    The question is, which ones are bad haha….

    Stay Tuned

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • avatar Paul J. G. says:

    That’s awesome. I have been very weary about clicking on links sent by other tweeters. Now I can open my trust to them a little more knowing that Twitter is fighting the war on spammers. Thanks Al and Skeeter. Keep up the great job you are doing to keep Twitter safe and entertaining.

  • Approaching the problem from another angle: I use Web of Trust (WOT) that can be downloaded as a Firefox add-on at http://www.mywot.com/

    The service warns about suspicious content on the site a URL points to before letting you in. You can, however, should you so wish. As far as I can tell, their database is pretty well up to date.

    You can also rate sites on a number of criteria yourself. The service accumulates these user ratings and uses them to further determine the target site’s reliability. At the moment, they claim to have more than 24 million sites rated.

    (Full disclosure: I am just a happy user, not affiliated to the service in any way.)

  • avatar Martin says:

    It’s pretty scary to click URLs that are shortened – you wouldn’t know what to expect. Anyway, thanks Al and Skeeter for the information =)

  • avatar Al Ferretti says:

    Hey Paul,

    We believe in time as twitter evolves further that we will see more tools to help us with shortened URLs from a security standpoint.

    -Al
    @alferretti
    http://twitterwatchdog.com

  • avatar Al Ferretti says:

    Hi Kimmo,

    Thanks for sharing http://www.mywot.com

    I did not know about that one, going to check out now.
    Where should we send you the check? :-)

    Have a great day my friend~

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • avatar Al Ferretti says:

    You’re welcome Martin.

    Did you see the link in Kimmo’s comment with regards to shortened URLS?

    http://www.mywot.com/

    -Al
    @alferretti

  • Helloooo Al and Skeeter!

    Yeah, that WOT site is very cool. Is it done by Panda? I looked up Twitter! It said that it was alright. 😉

    By the way, did you guys know about u.nu ? That’s the whole URL of this shortening service. Pretty short, alright!

    You guys have a GREAT weekend!

    Love @cha,
    @LaurenBlaine

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