Tip - using short urls

Padlock

[10 February 2015]

It is very common to see short urls used in emails as they look better than very long url links. However, short urls are regularly used in phishing attacks to direct people to bogus sites to capture information or infect computers with malware.

It is therefore important that you both use short urls sensibly and open them with caution.

  • Only shorten URLs when absolutely necessary. It is better to provide the original URL.
  • If you need to promote a University web page to the public you can request a short 'www.bristol.ac.uk/XXX' URL from Communications and Marketing (web-editor@bristol.ac.uk)
  • Do not use an external short URL for pages that ask users to submit credentials or to go to Single Sign On.
  • If using an external short URL provider use one which provides a preview service so the user can see where the link leads in advance. Example providers include v.gd and TinyUrl (TinyUrl gives you a preview option by inserting 'preview' at the beginning of the URL, e.g.http://preview.tinyurl.com/XXXX). Both these services require confirmation before taking you to the page.

Check a short url

One of the ways you can protect yourself is to verify where a shortened link will take you before you click on the link. Several websites offer a service that lets you copy/paste a shortened URL and see its true destination.