Thanks to URL shortening and redirection services, not all links are what they appear to be. Such shortened or redirected links take you to a different URL, which can possibly be malicious in nature as well. Extensions like WOT that tell you if a site can be trusted or not can be quite helpful for regular URLs but when it comes to shortened ones, such extensions have their limitations. URL Uncover is a web service that helps you check how safe a link is without having to visit it. You simply paste the link into it, and URL Uncover will run it by the McAfee SiteAdvisor to check if the domain is a trusted one. It will also generate a screenshot of the website that the URL links to, and pull the title, description, and keywords of that page from its metadata.
URL Uncover is simple to use; when you find a link that you’re suspicious of, be it a long URL or a shortened one, copy and paste it into the URL bar of the service and hit ‘Uncover’.
URL Uncover will check the link and load the title, description, keywords, and a screenshot of the resulting web page. In addition, it will also tell you the credibility of the domain by running it through McAfee SiteAdvisor, along with showing you the IP address of the website and checking if it’s listed on Spamcop.
The service works well as far as reporting the safety of a link is concerned; however, for shortened URLs, the service’s Pro version (which doesn’t ask you to sign up or pay anything at the moment, unlike what the term ‘Pro’ may suggest) is unable to load the title, description, and keywords of a website. The non-pro version has a more modest interface, but it actually worked better than the Pro version in our testing, except that it failed to load a screenshot of the website.
The developers have made the script used on the site available for purchase for anyone who wants to integrate it with their own product. Perhaps URL Uncover might function better if it were bundled as a browser extension or add-on, but there is a chance that it might be subject to the same limitations as WOT, and be unable to check shortened URLs. The only change or improvement URL Uncover needs is to be able to retrieve all the information for a link that it claims it can.