Verify Your Website Links

When you’re working on your site’s search engine optimization, getting backlinks is a basic part of the strategy for any site. In the process of getting those links, you may be creating a security nightmare for your users. Some of these attacks may put your users at risk for phishing attacks and other security risks that can have dire consequences and that might cast your site in a very bad light.

Open Redirects

Open redirects aren’t actually security flaws in and of themselves. They are oftentimes tied to useful site features. For instance, one of these redirects might make it easier for a user at your site to find an off-site resource and track where that user went in the process.

These redirects, however, can be exploited. Savvy hackers can change them so that the user clicking on the link that redirects them ends up at a site that is part of a phishing attack, that attempts to install malware on their machine or that takes other malicious actions. You should have your site checked regularly to make sure that your redirects are functioning properly. These redirects can be camouflaged in ways that make it very difficult – and sometimes impossible – for the user to tell that they’re being directed to a malicious site. The hacker may, for instance, hex code the destination so that there’s nothing obviously wrong with the URL, which can deceive even very knowledgeable and careful users.

Broken Links or Just Bad Links

Beyond someone actually exploiting a security hole, websites come and go and domains are sometimes bought up by entities that transform useful sites into porn site, malware sites or worse. The only real solution to this problem is to pay attention to user complaints and to regularly check your links to be sure that they’re directing users where you want them to go.

Watch out for complaints that someone got a virus off your website, even though such a complaint may seem ridiculous to you when you first read it. The users making such complaints may not know exactly what happened and blame your site for something another site did, but they may well have got to that malicious site from your own.

Your site’s links should be inspected regularly. This should be a basic part of site maintenance. In addition to checking to make sure that links aren’t broken, make sure that links that are functional are still going to where they went when you first put them on your site. Your visitors deserve at least that.