This is the most comprehensive guide to checking questionable links without risking the security of your computer systems. 

Today, I’m going to show you 12 completely safe methods.

In short, if you want to check links for viruses, you’ll love this article. 

Let’s get started.

Why shouldn’t you click on links?

Before we get started though, the big question:

Can I get a virus just by clicking on a link?

Yes you can. While the links themselves, won’t give your computer a virus, the website they direct you to can. If the site embeds some kind of malicious code in JavaScript or other applets, for example, they can direct your computer to download malware or viruses and run them. 

Koobface was an example of malware that spread through links.

It mainly used links on social media sites to spread. 

The most common attack method was fake video player updates. 

When someone clicked the link and got to the “video,” they were told they needed a flash update. 

Of course, the fake update installed malware.


So now that you know that links can be dangerous, let’s talk about how to actually check links for viruses. 

Checking suspicious links

The safest way to check links for viruses is to use a suspicious link checker site or service. There are several that work well, but VirusTotal is one of the most well-known. You can check files, URLs, and websites, and hashes against more than 70 malware analysis engines and domain blacklists. 

Let’s look at some others:


The team behind Google Safe Browsing created the Google Transparency Report to allow individuals to check websites and links against the trove of data Google has.

Google has been working on their security capabilities since 2007. 

As the most used search engine in the world, they have a responsibility to keep their users safe. 

To use the service, simply visit the transparency report site and put in the URL you want to check. 

It will tell you if malware has been found on the website.

(Google should know since they crawl everything, right?)

A nice feature is that it will also tell you about the risk of phishing. 

Even though a website doesn’t cause a virus, it can still be used to gather your credentials.

Check Short URL


Instead of focusing on detecting malware or phishing, CheckShortURL helps you check shortened links. 

You see:

A common social engineering practice of hackers is to hide the URL they are sending you. 

You can use this site to check where shortened URLs are actually sending you and detect if the sites are malicious. 

VirusTotal


VirusTotal is an amazing cybersecurity resource. 

There are many uses - checking files, URLs, and domains. 

For our case, we’re just interested in the link scanner. 

Simply visit the VirusTotal site, choose the URL tab, and enter the site you want to check. 

VirusTotal will then check the link against over 70 antivirus scanners and domain blacklisting services. 

There’s an Android and Windows app as well as an API that you can use. 

Sucuri Site Check


Sucuri is a pretty respected name when it comes to website security. 

They provide a free tool for checking if links and websites are malicious. 

It checks the link for known malware, viruses, blacklisting status, errors, out-of-date software, and malicious code.

URL Void


Like most of the previously mentioned sites, URLVoid is a malicious link checker site that you can use to check links. 

The Website Reputation Checker is simple to use and helps you detect potentially malicious sites. 

You enter the link you want to check and it will scan the website for you and report the results. 

ScanURL


ScanURL is a link checker that you should look into. 

It actually uses Google Safe Browsing, PhishTank, and Web of Trust. 

The site will simply tell you if the site is safe to use or not. 

ScanURL is supported by ads, so the interface is a little cluttered. 

Furthermore, you have to jump through a few hoops to get your results. 

Kaspersky Threat Intelligence Portal


Kaspersky is one of the big players when it comes to antivirus and endpoint protection. 

Like VirusTotal, the portal allows you to upload files to inspect in addition to its link checking capability. 

Simply enter the link address and it will quickly tell you if the site is safe or not. 

If for some reason you disagree with the results, you can “submit to reanalyze” and Kaspersky’s team will investigate and notify you of the outcome.

Phish Tank


Instead of looking for malware or malicious code, PhishTank helps you identify phishing sites. 

You simply enter the link you want to check and it will tell you if it knows anything about it - that is if it has it “in the tank.”

If PhishTank doesn’t know anything, you can add it to the tank to track. 

By their very nature, phishing sites aren’t as easy to detect as malicious sites, so this can take time. 

One nice feature of PhishTank is that it will give you a screenshot of the site you are inquiring about.  

Norton Safe Web


Norton is another company that doesn’t really need an introduction. 

Their antivirus software has been around for decades and widely used. 

They also provide a suspicious link checker tool - Norton Safe Web - that is quite handy. 

Like most of the sites mentioned already, you can simply enter the link you want to check and it will tell you if the site is safe. 

Norton also provides the Norton Safe Search browser extension that inspects websites as you browse the web. 

DFNDR Lab by PSAFE


DFNDR Lab works similarly to how PhishTank does just focus on malware instead. 

You can check any link or website you want for malware, but if the site isn’t in their database, it won’t know anything.

Of course, you can come back later and see what it finds about the site, but that’s definitely not the fastest option. 

Astra


Astra actually provides a website security and malware protection solution. 

Their free link checker is a bonus item (likely used for marketing). 

Either way, it’s a great place to check a suspicious link. 

Simply enter the URL you want to check, and it will tell you if it detects malware. 

There’s an option to request that it email you a more detailed report of the findings.

Virtual Machine


Astra actually provides a website security and malware protection solution. 

Their free link checker is a bonus item (likely used for marketing). 

Either way, it’s a great place to check a suspicious link. 

Simply enter the URL you want to check, and it will tell you if it detects malware. 

 There’s an option to request that it email you a more detailed report of the findings.

Conclusion

Attackers are turning to social engineering more than ever before to achieve their goals. 

If they can get the right employee to click on a link, they can potentially infect your entire network.

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