How to Share Links Securely Online
Link sharing is a common and convenient way of sending and receiving information online. However, not all links are safe and trustworthy. Some links may lead to malicious sites, phishing scams, or malware downloads. How can you protect yourself and your data from these threats? Here are some tips on how to share links securely online.
- Inspect short links. Short links are often used to make URLs more concise and user-friendly. However, they can also hide the true destination of a link, making it easier for attackers to trick you into clicking on something harmful. To avoid this, you can use a link-expansion service, such as ChecShortURL, or a browser plug-in to show the link’s destination before you click on it.
- Verify links in unsolicited emails. Phishing emails are one of the most common ways of spreading malicious links. They often pretend to be from legitimate sources, such as your bank, and ask you to click on a link to verify your information or access your account. However, these links may lead to fake websites that steal your credentials or infect your device. To prevent this, you should never click on links in unsolicited emails. Instead, visit the official website of the sender through your web browser, or contact them directly to confirm the authenticity of the email.
- Beware of links with strange character strings. Some attackers use URL encoding to disguise the destination of a link or hide malicious commands within it. URL encoding is a way of representing characters in a URL using percent signs and hexadecimal digits. For example, the letter A is encoded as %41. This makes it harder for you to read and understand what the link does. To decode a link with strange character strings, you can use a URL decoding tool, such as URL Decoder, to see the real destination.
- Scan the link with a link scanner. Link scanners are websites and plug-ins that let you enter the URL of a suspicious link and check it for safety. They scan the remote destination and then report if it is malicious, infected, or blacklisted. Some examples of link scanners are Norton SafeWeb, URLVoid, and ScanURL. You can use these tools before clicking on any link that you are unsure about.
- Use secure link sharing services. If you need to share links with others online, you can use secure link sharing services that offer encryption, password protection, expiration dates, and tracking features. These services ensure that only authorized recipients can access your links and that you can monitor their activity and revoke access if needed. One example of a secure link sharing service is Sizle, which lets you create and share encrypted presentations with anyone.
By following these tips, you can share links securely online and avoid falling victim to cyberattacks.
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Establish sharing boundaries for your organization. Not all content in your organization is suitable for unauthenticated sharing. Some content may be sensitive, confidential, or regulated by compliance policies. To prevent unauthorized or accidental exposure of such content, you can set sharing boundaries for your organization. For example, you can use sensitivity labels to classify and protect your files and folders based on their level of sensitivity. You can also use data loss prevention (DLP) policies to detect and block sharing of content that contains sensitive information, such as credit card numbers or personal identifiers. By setting sharing boundaries, you can ensure that only appropriate content is shared with unauthenticated users.
Educate your team on secure file sharing. One of the most important file sharing best practices is to educate your team on how to share files securely online. Your team should be aware of the risks and benefits of unauthenticated sharing, as well as the policies and tools that your organization provides. You can conduct regular training sessions, send newsletters, or create guides to help your team learn how to share files securely online. You can also encourage your team to follow some simple tips, such as:
- Check the recipient’s email address before sending a link.
- Use descriptive and clear file names and messages.
- Review the link permissions and expiration settings before sharing.
- Delete or disable unused or outdated links.
- Report any suspicious or malicious links or activities.
By educating your team on secure file sharing, you can foster a culture of security awareness and responsibility in your organization.