One of the biggest dangers surfers are facing on the web these days is the incredible proliferation of URL shortening services like TinyUrl, bit.ly, and countless more. While they do provide a valuable service they also can be used by cretins that want to try and trick users into going to malware type sites. It wasn’t until the increase of services like Twitter though that this potential danger really gained any ground.
Word has it today though that Twitter has turned on URL blocking that will not let shortened links that lead to malware sites to be posted. This was first noticed by security firm F-Secure and is now being widely reported throughout the blogosphere – as it should be.
As Sarah Perez over at ReadWriteWeb points out this service is probably being provided in conjunction with a third party as the cost to Twitter to maintain the needed database of constantly increasing threats would probably be more than the service could sustain.
Since the company has not made any official announcement about the new protection, it’s unknown at this time if Twitter is using a particular service to provide the lookup capabilities for the malicious URL identification or if they are managing this process in-house. If we had to bet, though, we would go with the former. Maintaining a current “block list” for malicious web sites would be a major undertaking for the startup. It’s more likely they’ve partnered with a security company of some sort to provide this service or are using a publicly available API, such as Google’s Safe Browsing API, which checks URLs against Google’s blacklist.
Source: ReadWriteWeb :: Twitter Starts Filtering Malicious URLs
The only drawback to this is that this parsing of URLs only occurs if posting from the actual Twitter page rather than third party clients. Now other than bit.ly none of the other URL shorteners provide the same kind of protection so really this ends up only being a half-measure.
But I guess a start is better than nothing. Now if the rest of the URL shortening services would climb on board.