As an internet user of today, you should be well aware of the dangers posed by URL shorteners. If you aren’t aware of them, well, the main, most important danger is their ability to mask potentially malicious links. This means that if you click on a shortend link you may potentially be killing your computer.
Usually the most popular URL shorteners take measures to protect their users from malicious links, however, there are many more obscure and not-so-popular URL shorteners out there that can’t protect their users as well.
A hacker named Ben Schmidt was inspired by all the media attention garnered by the WikiLeak’s “hackivists” DDos (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks couple of years ago. He decided that there could be an even more worrisome use for URL shortening services. He built a site, d0z.com, which looks and acts just like any other URL shortener from the perspective of the person clicking on the link. The only difference is that behind the scenes it’s initiating a DDOS attack on the target of the link creator’s choosing.
Schmidt put a disclaimer on the site which claims that d0z.me is only a demonstration of how easy it is to orchestrate a DDoS attack without having to infect someone’s PC or having to take control of a botnet by spreading malware.
You probably don’t have to worry about the links you share with bit.ly yet, however, you should be aware of the potential dangers of shortened URLs, and how hackers may use them to gain an advantage over their enemies.