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Short URLs can be both a blessing and a curse. While we no longer have to deal with long, messy links that go on for miles, we also have to be careful when clicking on these trimmed down URLs as they could be concealing spam, viruses, malware, and other virtual nasties. Fortunately, Rian Visser created DecryptLinks, a new website that lets you see what’s really behind those short URLs. The service is very easy to use – just enter a short link in the box, hit the decrypt button, and DecryptLinks will reveal the original URL, as well as display a description of the site, its trust rating, and a screenshot (if applicable). Chrome and Firefox add-ons are also available so you can use the free service from your browser.

Visser, who became an Internet entrepreneur in 2010, previously worked as a police officer for 14 years. He subsequently joined the banking industry as a fraud investigator, during which he trained police officers in investigating online crimes. Visser had wanted to start his own company for a while but was hesitant to quit his full-time employment. When he did finally take the plunge, he worked extra hard during his last month at his former job to ensure the success of his business.

“It was clear to me that this industry requires hard work and dedication,” Visser says. “At some times an Internet entrepreneur would need to ‘gamble’ when decisions are made and investment in projects required.” He recalls earning only $54 during his first month as an entrepreneur and the “we told you so” looks on his family members’ faces. Today, however, he makes several times more than he did at his old job and has three permanent employees and four freelance coders working with him.

Visser, who’s currently working on an IP lookup service, plans to grow his business into one of the most successful online ventures that provide security solutions to Internet users.

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