The world wide web (WWW) is the home to billions of websites. All of them some purpose and are build by web designers all over the world. These websites hold with them, an abundance of knowledge and information that helps us in one way or another. Not all websites you visit are safe, not all of them promise to keep your information safe within their boundaries. Sounds scary? That’s because it is, you need to know which website isn’t safe before sharing your personal information with them. So, how to check if a website is safe?
Hackers that sit behind their screens all day try to take advantage of the information that you unknowingly share. You can lose a lot of money in an instant if hackers or cybercriminals get access to your banking details through an unsecured website. There are a few ways you add an extra layer of security to your internet sessions. Anti-virus software & firewalls can help save your sensitive data from suspicious elements.
To help you understand the clear difference between safe and unsafe websites. We have come up with a guide on how to check if a website is secured?
Steps to Check a Secured Website
Before we go into details, you should know why cyber safety is so important. According to data collected in 2019, people lost over 800 million dollars in just one year due to online scams. Here’s a complete overview of the data:
- Online scams have costed people over $800 Million
- People lost $143 million to online charity based scams
- Almost 1.5 million fake websites are created every single month
- 2 out of ten teenagers receive fake online offers
Now we head onto the steps that can help you identify a fake website.
What is the URL?
URL (Uniform Resource location) is the first step in finding out if a website is fake. Most people don’t pay attention to a URL whenever they head onto a website. Most people click on fake offers and deals they see on social media or their email. This is not a wrong thing as most websites offer you to send you a notification via mail, but make sure when you click the link it really is the website you are trying to visit.
(This option is for desktop users) You can check the link by moving your mouse over to the hyperlink, on the bottom left side of your screen, the URL will appear, go through the link word by word and if anything seems fishy then you don’t have to click on it. There are always other ways you can open the website you are looking for. Although if you do click on the link, it will take you to the website. Match the URL with the hyperlink you saw before if both of them differ then it is clearly a red flag.
Even if the website looks okay there are ways you can confirm your suspicion. Hackers are very good at making similar websites. Let’s suppose you want to buy a pair of shades and you have to go onto www.amazon.com, hackers can trick you by making the same website just like Amazon, but they can’t use the same URL. They might use www.aamazon.com or www.amazzon.com, these little inconsistencies in the URL can help you find out an unsecured website, and you won’t be sitting confused thinking “is this URL safe?” It seems like a lot of work but it is worth it if you want to save your hard-earned money.
Why HTTPS Over HTTP?
The Internet has been running on a hypertext transfer protocol since 1990. You can say with the rise of WWW came the HTTP. And it has been 30 years since then and nothing has changed. Now, most of the websites use HTTPS where “s” stands for secure. The banking and E-commerce sector gave birth to these protocols they deal in people’s personal information as well as banking details.
The primary purpose of using an HTTPS site is to secure all the data that goes into the website. This makes it harder for hackers to steal information and use it for their own purposes. So, next time a website asks you to enter your information, ensure whether the website is secured or not. Also, keep in mind that a website using HTTPS can be unsafe as well because scammers can use this protocol to look more legitimate. Still, if a website is running on HTTP that means stay away! Understanding the difference between HTTP & HTTPS protocol can help you save yourself.
Check the Website’s Reputation
After you’ve completely gone through two steps, and you need more confirmation (it’s okay to be a little paranoid). You can do a bit of research on the website. All you have to do is to go to Google and type “is (website name) safe?” in the search bar. This will give a list of consumer experiences about the website you are trying to visit. If everything seems positive after research then you are good to go!
Always look out for Contact Information
This is the last step you can take to keep yourself safe online. Look for the contact information on the site you have stumbled upon. Most websites leave a phone number at the footer in case someone has some queries. Some websites also have physical addresses of the offices. Before making any sort of transaction make sure the website has a piece of contact information that can help you hold someone accountable in case something goes wrong with your personal information.
Additional Safety Measures You Can Take
Knowing how to identify a fake website can take you a long way while browsing online. But you should always take additional safety measures while surfing online, as the internet is a scary place. You can use these tips to know is a website safe or not?
- Set up Safe Browsing: Your browsers give you access to a lot of tools that help you save yourself from online threats. To access these features you need to go into your browser’s settings menu and find “advanced settings” from there you can find security options. These features can help you block ads, pup-ups and help you keep your location private.
- Anti-Virus Software: Most people neglect the importance of Anti-Virus software, you should always have active anti-virus software on your computer. Anti-Virus can act as a wall between you and potential harms that can cause you inconvenience. It will stop all the downloads that you have not permitted, it will also save you from a barrage of pop-up ads whenever you visit a website. The best part about anti-virus software is that it comes with a browser extension. That means it can help you identify whether a website is fake or real.
- Don’t Click if you’re Not Sure: it goes without saying that your safety is in your hands and your hands only! If you think that there is something fishy about the webpage you are browsing, then it is always better to get out before you get conned.
The whole process may seem a little long and complicated but once you make it your habit then you won’t ever get trapped in an online scam. A little piece of information and caution can help you in the long term. Follow these tips and know the difference between safe & unsafe websites.