Tuesday, June 12, 2001

Why do some sites hide the URLs of their files or pages?

Tuesday, June 12, 2001

If you hover your mouse pointer over one of the text links on this page you will notice that the name of the page or file linked to and its location will be displayed in the bottom left corner of your browser. Some webmasters choose to insert javascript code into their pages in order to mask this information. This may be done to display important information or for misguided aesthetic reasons, but can also be used to conceal links to dangerous files or pages designed to redirect you to the site's sponsor or malevolently coded web sites.

If you are in any doubt you can right-click on a link, select 'properties' and assess the URL for authenticity. If it contains a CGI or PHP reference with an ID code you should be wary of rushing into clicking on it. This is generally a good rule of thumb, however, there are some exceptions that you should be aware of - when the site is using an anti-leech system, for instance, to prevent people from harvesting the entire contents of the site using an automated download tool.

Firefox users can prevent web sites from tampering with the status bar like so: open up the 'preferences' menu, select the 'web features' tab and click on the 'advanced' button adjacent to the 'enable javascript' check box. Now untick the (allow scripts to) 'hide the status bar' and 'change status bar text' check boxes and click 'OK'.

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