Top 5 Ways to Check if a Website is Safe
We happen to live in a time where millions of online users browse through millions of websites every day.
It becomes mandatory for every website owner to ensure the visitor's safety. However, regrettably, some websites aren't secure at all. An unsafe website can endanger visitor safety by spreading malware, stealing information, sending spam, and much more.
Thus, it becomes vital to know whether a website is secure or not so you can keep your personal information safe from misuse. But how do you know if a website is safe or not? Watch out for these signs so you know how to identify a secure website...
Look for the SSL certificate
The first step is to take a good look at a website and check if the URL is safe. If it begins with "https" in place of "http", then it means the website is encrypted and secured using an SSL certificate. The SSL certificate protects all the sensitive information fed into a site as it transmits from your browser to the website's server. If no SSL certificate is in place, then this information is visible and easily accessible by cybercriminals.
To obtain an SSL certificate, the company needs to undergo a validation process. Nevertheless, there are quite a few validation levels, and some may be easier to get through than others.
The lowest validation level is the Domain Validation. This validates domain ownership alone, not the legitimacy of the organization applying for the certificate. Simply put, if you have bought the domain "amaz0n.com" and requested an SSL certificate for it, then you would receive the certificate as you are the domain’s owner.
The highest level of validation is called the Extended Validation. This is the most extensive and safest and helps check website validity. It is mandatory for the company requesting this certificate to prove its identity and business legitimacy. You can find out whether a website has an Extended Validation certificate by viewing the address bar.
It's imperative to note that HTTPS is not the only action a website can take to safeguard its visitors. However, it shows that the website owner cares about keeping your information safe. So before you log in, make a payment, or even enter your email address for subscriptions, don't forget to check if the URL begins with "https".
Look at the domain
Cyberattackers often create websites resembling existing successful sites. They do this to trick people into accessing their fake phishing site or trying to make a purchase while on it. These sites have domain names and website layouts that often look exactly the same as the existing website.
For instance, say a cyberattacker buys the domain name "amaz0n.com" and builds up a website resembling the original amazon.com website. They buy a Domain Validation certificate for their website, then track users by either sending phishing emails or using other ways to convince them to purchase products or login to their accounts on the fake phishing site. The end goal is to trick innocent online consumers into handing over their personal information.
To prevent such attacks, it is best to always look carefully at the domain of a site you are visiting. If you receive an email from your bank or another reputable online vendor, how do you check if the link is safe? Just type the domain in your browser and check if it's the right website before you click the link in the email.
Find their contact information
Generally, a website with contact information appears more trustworthy to many people. It is common to see many website visitors will leave a website if it does not have a phone number or any contact information. A safe website will display a phone number and email address, a physical address if it has one, and social media account details. These particulars won't necessarily offer protection, but they mean you can reach out for assistance if you need any.
Verify their trust
If you happen to spot an icon with the words "Secure" or "Verified", it could be a trust seal. This indicates that a website works with a third-party security service provider. These seals indicate sites possess HTTPS security and other safety features such as the date of its latest malware scan.
Verifying the seal is important to find out whether it is legitimate. You can test its authenticity by clicking on the badge, and it should redirect to a verification page. This way, you can confirm the site is really working with the security service provider and is safe.
Know the signs of website malware
Spotting them is easy as cybercriminals swap a site's content with their name, logo, and ideological descriptions or images.
Pop-up windows with unusual or tempting claims are mainly to entice you to click and unwittingly download malware.
Finding malicious advertisements can be easy as they typically appear unprofessional and feature noticeable spelling and grammatical errors. For instance, they may promote "miracle" cures; celebrity imposed scandals, or feature products irrelevant to your browsing history. It is crucial to be aware that even legitimate ads can pose a malware threat.
Phishing kits are websites impersonating banking and shopping websites. Their purpose is to trick users into giving away their sensitive information. They may seem legitimate, but we can surely spot some mistakes like spelling and grammar errors.
If you find your URL is getting redirected to another suspicious-looking site instead of the intended one, it is a malicious redirect. This is commonly used in conjunction with phishing kits.
If you see some unusual links on a site, most often found in the comments section, this is a sure indication of SEO spam.
Search engine warnings
Certain popular search engines automatically scan websites for malware, and if found, will display a warning on that site.
Final tips: How to check if a website is safe
Merely being able to make out if a website is safe can help protect your personal data. It is not easy or obvious to determine whether every website is trustworthy and secure, but this should not stop you from going online.
Just follow a safe approach by checking for signs of secure websites. So, before you click a dangerous link or give away any personal or financial information to a website, make sure you follow the points mentioned above.
You can also install website security tools like Clario cybersecurity software to identify a safe website and offer you a secure browsing experience. Go with the tool that is customized to meet individual experiences and behaviors. To know more on protecting your information online, check out Clario!