Safe Links | URL Protection | Link Protection

Safe Links (also known as URL Protection) are tools used by anti-SPAM technology solutions that rewrite all incoming URL’s in email to point to the anti-SPAM provider’s proxy instead of the original and potentially dangerous URL in the recipients email.  This allows all email to flow quickly into recipient inboxes while also allowing SPAM providers to check the safety of the website links in question. 

If the Anti-SPAM provider finds the website behind the link it removed and rewrote to itself, is potentially malicious or appears to be a credential stealing website, it will NOT proxy connections to that website when clicked by email recipients. Instead it will present a message that warns the end user that the website behind the LINK appears to be malicious and not to proceed.  Some technology solutions allow the end user to go anyways (at the discretion of the Administrator of the “Safe Links” service).  While others just block access entirely.

Additional Reading:

Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) Capability – Safe Links

Configuring URL Protection in Mimecast

Link Protection by GreatHorn

Related Terms: Hackers, Phishing

Should SMBs invest in this technology and enable it?

Yes.  End users may not always take the time to validate the websites they are visiting, even with awareness training.  If they manage to click a link to a malicious website, these technologies provide an additional layer of protection for end users and should be enabled.
Your employees should also be trained on the best way to examine links for safety with awareness training on spotting and avoiding phishing attacks.  This extends to mobile devices like cell phones and tablets.  A long press and hold on Apple devices reveals the URL behind a link in an email that may lead to a malicious website.  Always use caution when visiting any link from any device at all times.
Take a moment to find where that area is by hovering your mouse over this link When hovering your mouse over the link, ensure the link will take you to the website you are wanting to reach. 
Another way to investigate the link is by highlighting the link, right clicking, selecting “copy link address”, and pasting it into your URL bar at the top of your browser and seeing if it passes the test. 

To learn more about Safe Links and Phishing best practices, watch this short 3 minute video:

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