Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I received an email (via GMail) containing single URL link. For the purpose of this question, it is irrelevant whether link came from someone I know, because origin can be spoofed or faked.

I suspect that link points to some malware/virus/trojan, but it might be legal link.

How can I verify that the link points to some some virus/trojan/malware? It there software that helps me to verify this without endangering my PC?

Is using Chrome Incognito mode the right solution?

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

Reply back to the person and ask if they really meant to send you to the suspicious site. If they did not send it or don't respond, don't click the link.


To answer your edit: No, Chrome Incognito it is not the right solution. There are plenty of exploits that can get out of Chrome. It is not perfect, that is why they update it. If the malicious link is using a exploit that has yet to be patched you will be infected.

Also if the link you click on is sending you to download a file and that file is malicious (does not need to be a EXE, there are plenty of other ways to infect a computer via a file besides executables) no browser can protect from that (other than a pre-opening virus scan)

share|improve this answer
    
This is not satisfactory. Their intention might be to infect you, in which case they will answer in positive, and you get infected. –  Andrei Feb 8 '13 at 17:42
1  
I was addressing the "it is irrelevant whether link came from someone I know, because origin can be spoofed or faked." point you made. Doing what I suggest is confirming origin, making "Who it came from" relevent. If you got a legitimate email from someone you don't trust and you wan't to know how to open it, that is a different issue. If that is your real question you should re-word your original question to reflect that and I will delete this answer as it does not apply to that question. –  Scott Chamberlain Feb 8 '13 at 17:45
    
Even someone you known can have intention to infect your computer, not even speaking about someone you do not know. Assuming here that sender's identity is not faked. –  Andrei Feb 8 '13 at 17:48
    
If that is the case, if the sender is a person you can trust not to send you a infected link, and you have verified the real identity of the sender, and they confirmed they sent you the link, and they can attest that the link is not infected, and you trust their judgement on the fact that the link is not infected.... Then you can open the link. Other than that, I just say never open them. –  Scott Chamberlain Feb 8 '13 at 17:53
    
You move the answer from technical area to subjective/psychological. That fails. (1) Unsuspecting user can forward infected link, unknowingly. (2) You assume I am supposed to know precisely level of trust of everybody who sends me emails. I think this is naive assumption. In short, I prefer technical solution, not psychologival/subjective. –  Andrei Feb 12 '13 at 19:14

I received an email (via GMail) containing single URL link. For the purpose of this question, it is irrelevant whether link came from someone I know, because origin can be spoofed or faked.

More or less. GMail does a pretty good job filtering spoofed email addresses, as long as the corresponding domains have DKIM and/or SPF set up.

Of course, anybody with access to the email account (e.g., malware) can still send those mails, but that's different form header spoofing.

That means that if the link points to some malicious site, either your friend's email account has been compromised or you shouldn't call him a friend. In either case, contact him (preferably not via email).

How can I verify that the link points to some some virus/trojan/malware? It there software that helps me to verify this without endangering my PC?

A website can only infect your computer if it exploits some vulnerability in your web browser or – much likelier – one of its plug-ins.

In Google Chrome, e.g., you can set Plug-ins to Click to play in chrome://settings/content, so you have to give your permission explicitly to run a plug-in on a site.

As always, you should run periodic updates for your web browser, the OS itself and your malware scanner (assuming you use one).

Is using Chrome Incognito mode the right solution?

No. Incognito was designed to prevent leaving traces on your computer, not to protect it from malicious websites.

share|improve this answer

I would recommend using Google Chrome as your web browser. It has built-in sandboxing and auto-updates that prevent malware from being installed on your computer if you happen to navigate to an unsafe URL.

See: https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/browser/features.html#security and http://support.google.com/chrome/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=99020

share|improve this answer
    
See @scottChamberlain's answer. The sandbox might protect you from some known threats. –  terdon Feb 8 '13 at 17:55

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.