Popular VPN launches new free security tool to help you fight back phishing scams

IPVanish VPN running on a Macbook Pro

As generative AI tools like ChatGPT become increasingly popular, phishing attacks are not only experiencing a steep rise in numbers but are also becoming increasingly more effective and difficult to spot. These cyber threats usually involve dodgy links that, if clicked, can inject malware into a victim's device. This is why one of the best VPN services on the market has developed a solution to help you avoid them.

IPVanish has just launched its Link Checker tool to verify the safety of URLs before clicking. The tool achieves this by using a mix of AI and machine learning engines to deliver an accurate deep-link analysis, offering insights into any flagged concerns. The tool comes as a standalone website and is free to use for everyone—whether or not you're an IPVanish subscriber.

IPVanish Link Checker is just the latest of a series of free security tools and upgrades the virtual private network provider has recently introduced. In March, the provider dropped two new security features (Threat Protection and split tunneling). Other free security tools from IP Vanish include their very own IP Address Checker, Password Generator, and Internet Speed Checker that anyone can use.

IPVanish Link Checker promises to be more than traditional URL scanners. Instead of relying solely on domain blocklists, for example, IPVanish's new software employs AI and machine learning engines to deliver, as the provider explains, "the most accurate deep-link analysis possible." 

Put simply, the tool monitors web page behavior to determine whether a website is malicious or legitimate. Once it reaches a decision, it provides you with a detailed analysis that includes the reasons why the site has been flagged as dangerous, guidance on the next steps, and the option to check another link. 

IPVanish Link Checker also uses a temporary cloud-hosted scanner to open the links in a secure virtual environment, follow redirects, and load external content such as ads and tracking libraries. This is done to ensure malicious activity cannot reach your device.

"We believe that a safe and secure digital experience is a human right," said Subbu Sthanu, Chief Commercial Officer at IPVanish. "A VPN is a great start, but people need more than that. The free Link Checker is another excellent addition to users’ security toolbox, and we encourage all to use it alongside a VPN and antivirus software for a safer online experience."

Like other IPVanish-developed security tools, Link Checker is a free resource for both IPVanish subscribers and non-subscribers. This decision, Sthanu said, stems from the company's mission to empower people with the tools they need to navigate the digital world safely and confidently. 

He told me: "By offering Link Checker as a free, standalone website, we make this essential resource accessible to everyone. This approach helps us reach a broader audience and improve our Threat Protection feature while supporting our goal of reducing phishing and scams, contributing to a safer internet for all."

We already mentioned that IPVanish recently added a Threat Protection feature to its VPN software (see tweet above). This tool works by stopping intrusive ads and other trackers, such as third-party cookies and scripts, from loading when you open a page. It utilizes blocking lists to proactively filter out unsecured sites, too, and protect IPVanish subscribers against potential threats.

At this point, you might be wondering why you should use Link Checker at all —especially if you already have Threat Protection active on your IPVanish app. The truth is that, despite some similarities, the two tools rather complement each other instead.

Commenting on this point, Sthanu told me: " While Threat Protection protects users from known malicious links on a domain level, Link Checker can check specific pages. It can also check individual elements embedded onto a page from third-party websites, including malicious Javascript and hidden iFrames."

Even better, Link Checker is also employed to improve Threat Protection performances. "As established, Threat Protection stops users from accessing known malicious websites; Link Checker helps identify new malicious websites and feeds this information into Threat Protection’s intelligence database," Sthanu added.

As we have seen, Threat Protection provides subscribers with an extra layer of security for everyday web browsing. Some other providers integrate a similar feature on their VPN apps, including NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

By contrast, IPVanish Link Checker is an easy way to verify a link coming from an unknown or suspicious source. This includes links received via email, SMS, social media posts, or any other platform where shortened URLs are common.

Sthanu recommends using Link Checker especially when you are not connected to a VPN. He also invites everyone to check link security if they spot one of these red flags: 

  • Unfamiliar URLs: Be cautious of URLs that do not match the official domain name of the site they claim to represent.
  • Shortened links: These types of links can be dangerous as they hide the destination.
  • Poor website design: This is the main red flag that a website might be malicious. Watch out especially for grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and low-quality images.
  • Pop-up ads and redirects: Sthanu said that, as a rule of thumb, excessive pop-up ads or unexpected redirects to other websites are common signs of malicious sites.
  • Requests for personal information: Always ask yourself, why does this website need this sensitive information? These might include passwords and credit card details.
  • Lack of HTTPS: Legitimate websites use HTTPS to guarantee data entering the site is encrypted, and consequently secure.
  • Unusual behavior: Odd behavior can be an indication that the website is hiding some malware or other threats.
Chiara Castro
Senior Staff Writer

Chiara is a multimedia journalist committed to covering stories to help promote the rights and denounce the abuses of the digital side of life—wherever cybersecurity, markets and politics tangle up. She mainly writes news, interviews and analysis on data privacy, online censorship, digital rights, cybercrime, and security software, with a special focus on VPNs, for TechRadar Pro, TechRadar and Tom’s Guide. Got a story, tip-off or something tech-interesting to say? Reach out to chiara.castro@futurenet.com