Shortened web addresses posted on internet social networking sites are likely to be one of the biggest threats to internet users next year, a software protection company says.
Long addresses can be condensened into a few letters and numbers, making them easier to post on social networking or blogging sites.
Symantec says the number of malicious shortened addresses is on the rise, and it expects the growth to continue.
Cyber criminals can use them to con internet users into visiting websites that will infect their computers with viruses or even hold their personal files to ransom, it says.
Internet safety group Netsafe says the addresses can be used to disguise where a user is being taken when they click on a link.