How to Check If a URL is Infected with Malware
Have you ever gotten an email from a friend or acquaintance but noticed that the text of the email is a bit strange and they ask you to click on a link. Sometimes the link even looks like it leads to a legitimate website. Scammers have become so sophisticated nowadays, that they go to the effort to create a fake website that seems legitimate in order to cheat people out of their money. In order to protect yourself, you need to make sure that you are not susceptible to malware this guide will show you how to check if a URL is infected with any malware.
What is Malware?
Malware, short for malicious software is a term used to describe any software that is designed to cause damage to anything computer related. There are various types of malware in existence that include viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, adware, trojan horses and scare-ware. This malicious software can spread any number of ways, from downloading something from a shady source to entering the wrong website. Our computers are an incredibly important piece of equipment for almost anyone today, it is how we access our banks online, pay bills, save pictures, and sometimes work so it is very important to keep your computer safe.
While many types of Malware are becoming rarer due to updated security measures, there are some types of Malware that are now more popular including phishing According to a Google report in 2019, there are 1.4 million websites that were deemed dangerous, of these 1.3 million were phishing sites. Phishing is the practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies in order to trick people into revealing their personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
How to Check If a URL Is Infected with Malware
Most web browsers have built-security features that block access to suspicious sites or provide a warning asking if you really want to enter this site. However, there are a number of ways to keep your computer and data safe.
URL Security Checker- Some websites offer tools that will give you a rating on the URL you have inserted into the search area and will inform you if it contains unsafe content. Norton and Google both offer such services for free.
Check Hyperlinks- A hyperlink is when a word or an image is linked to a website. The word will usually be in blue, but an image will always look the same. A way to check if something is hyperlinked is to hover above it with your mouse and the website should pop up. Make sure that the site is safe before following the link.
HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)- When using some sites, you will see either a padlock symbol or the URL will start with HTTPS as opposed to HTTP. This means that the site is less likely to contain malware and is relatively trustworthy.
Double Check URLs- They say that the human brain can recognize words based on just the first and last letter even in the letters in between are scrambled. Many people fall into the fake URL trap by not identifying that the site they are accessing is fraudulent. These sites use recognizable names like google and change them into something like Goolge, which only a discerning eye would pick up.
Update Browser Settings- All browsers like Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer have built-in tools that you can utilize to stop malware. These tools are customizable and allow you to choose to block pop-ups, choose which sites can access your camera and other security settings that will protect you.
What To Do if Your Computer was Infected by Malware
If your computer was infected with Malware, the first step is to disconnect from the internet. This will ensure that no more information is being sent from your computer and that nobody can control your computer from afar. If you need to download a malware removal tool, try downloading it on another computer and then transferring it offline via a memory drive.
If you have saved your computer data from a date before the malware-infected your computer you can restore your computer to that previously saved date which will effectively remove anything new that was added to your computer since that date, including the malware. If you have not, restart your computer under safe mode which will prevent any unauthorized programs from running and then run a malware removal program.
What To Do if You Were The Victim of a Phishing Scam
The first thing to do is to delete whatever you may have downloaded from a phishing site, hopefully, it will be before the scammer had time to take your information. Some phishing scammers will lock you out of your accounts, so after deleting the malware, it is prudent to change all your passwords, email, social media, logins, and bank passwords. If you have your credit card information to a phishing scammer, cancel the card you used as soon as you can.
You should also report the scam to the Anti-Phishing Working Group so that you can prevent other people from falling into the same trap.
If you have revealed personal or financial information to the scammer, keep an eye out for any signs of identity theft. Look at your bank statements daily to see if there is any unusual activity, you can also ask your bank to alert you if there is any abnormal purchases or withdrawals.
If you see signs of identity fraud, get in touch with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). They will be able to guide you through the steps to take whether your information was stolen from your credit card account, utilities, checking and savings, or medical insurance. You can also place a fraud alert on your credit report that makes it more difficult for scammers to use your identity.