Here is little warning and reminder not to get too comfortable thinking that scammers are gone or that your email spam filter is so good they will never get to you. Here is your wake up call: These people never get tired of trying. They use all sorts of means to disguise themselves including shortening their links by means of “short url” machines like in the case of the above picture.

Spam Email Example

Example of an email that hides a dangerous link behind a tinyurl link under the UPGRADE NOW button.

In fact, I just got right in my inbox one of those messages with a malicious link to some phishing scam hosted on https:// [some_malicious_place] .us.archive.org. But the link that was actually in the big blue button was not pointing there directly. It was disguised behind a https:// tinyurl.com/ [some_extension_goes_here]. It took running the link through Google’s online virus scanner virustotal.com to detect that the final destination of the link is an archive.org-hosted malicious content and site.

So, when you get an email that makes you uncomfortable as to why you are getting it or one that it looks suspicious, you probably are right. It is probably suspicious and dangerous. Get your IT friend look at it or just do not click on any links or attachments in it until you can get it verified by someone who has the tools. If you know how to extract the links without activating them, then do that and report the links if malicious to places like virustotal.com or to your antivirus software so they can include it in their next update. Please note that sometimes the email may come from an address of a person you actually know (after their mailbox was hijacked or is being spoofed).

Google is full of resources on how to tell if the email you are looking at is Spam. Seriously. Just type such a question and you will find a plethora of reputable sites with good examples. Emphasis on reputable. Do not fall for more phishing while trying to detect some.

virustotal.com reveals the actual final destination of a tinyurl or Shortened URL.

This screenshot from virustotal.com details page shows us the final URL the tinyurl link or Shortened URL that was in the phishing email would have led to.

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Posted by Rafiki Technology

We learned a ton in school, on the job, but also from great technical insights that others shared on various platforms. We are just giving it back and glorifying Jesus Christ, the Inventor of all human beings. Please note that all information shared on or through our site is of good faith and is not intended to cause any harm individuals, groups, organizations, or devices. Just to be clear: you assume all responsibility for anything you do; we are not liable for anything that should go wrong.

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