Extra spam and malware security for bit.ly

Sophos, VeriSign and Websense to provide belt and braces

Bit.ly has partnered with security firms to bolt improved anti-spam and malware protection onto the URL shortening service.

VeriSign’s iDefense IP reputation service will be used to screen against links that point to blacklisted sites hosting exploits, malicious code, botnet command and control servers or other nefarious activity.

Websense Threatseeker cloud service will be used to peer behind the web content behind bit.ly links in real time, using behaviour-based tools and reputation data to detect URLs linked to spamvertised sites or phishing attacks.

Sophos is also chipping in by playing sweeper with behavioral-analysis technology designed to proactively detect spam and malware.

In addition to partnering with three well established security firms, bit.ly is also offering users a chance to download a preview plug-in, and is publicising its abuse reporting service (abuse@bit.ly) as explained in a blog posting here.

URL shortening services like bit.ly allow users to convert a lengthy Web address into a much shortened link. The popularity of these services have soared with the growing use of Twitter and other social media websites. More than two billion shortened URLs were created in October alone, according to Websense.

These shortened URLs may be convenient but pose a risk by camouflaging the destination website, a factor hackers and virus writers have already exploited to a limited extent. By partnering with the three security firms, bit.ly hopes to nip this nascent problem in the bud before it gets out of hand.

Twitter began using Google's Safe Browsing API to provide warning to users following links to blocklisted sites back in August. Bit.ly's partnership with securiy firms is aimed at much the same problem but arguably provides a deeper level of protection. ®

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