Link-shortening services such as TinyURL seem ideal for criminals because they can disguise the names of malicious sites. Yet on Twitter — one of the most popular places for them — they may not be nearly as malicious as many industry experts fear, according to new security research. Zscaler Inc., a company that sells security services, studied 1.3 million shortened links taken from Twitter over two weeks, before Twitter began in early March to examine such links for malicious content.
Just 773 of those links — a mere 0.06 percent — led to malicious content. Link-shortening services convert long Web addresses into shorter ones. They have become more popular as people spend more time on social-networking sites and share with their friends links to photos, news articles and other tidbits. They are especially important on Twitter, which restricts its posts to 140 characters.