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How to Tell if a Website is Secure

Have you ever been searching for a good coupon to use on your next vacation purchase, when all of a sudden you land on a warning message saying “This is not a secure connection?” Well, you should certainly take those warnings into consideration next time you are searching the web. 

The internet has become the most powerful mainstream tool to use for all facets of our everyday life in the last 20 years. It’s probably the greatest invention since sliced bread. But more to the point, the internet is also full of bugs that can clutter your devices if you are not careful. This article will discuss some effective ways to make sure the website you are visiting is secure.

check a website is safe

Secure Website: Cybersecurity? 

Cybersecurity is the policing system that your computer, tablet, or smartphone employs in order to prevent malware from corrupting your programs and devices. Many MacBooks and PCs already have built-in cybersecurity software at the time of your device’s purchase. Cybersecurity is an effective tool that can enable users to block and filter out harmful sites as well

For instance, you may be in the market to find a vacation home or Airbnb. Some malicious sites may have false or misleading information designed to accept deposits from innocent users. In this scenario, cybersecurity plays a crucial role in filtering out the dangerous sites. 

If your browser is attempting to engage its cybersecurity features, it is important that you do not block the feature from doing its job. The built-in cybersecurity software is there to keep you from visiting websites that are not secure. If you prevent your built-in cybersecurity from doing its job, you will find yourself continuing to face these struggles. Furthermore, your cybersecurity can prevent your device from getting unwanted viruses and annoying pop-ups while you are surfing the web. Cybersecurity is also set in place to keep you away from sites that are attempting to steal your private information. 

Things to Look Out For

One sign your cybersecurity is at risk is if the site you are visiting has broken external and internal links. This is an indication that the site administrator was not actively trying to ensure the functionality of the site. Instead, they want you to visit the site so that they may attack your system with malware. This is an unfortunate but harsh reality many internet users must be willing to acknowledge. It is very common to fall for clickbait strategies–such as false headlines. Once the user has clicked on the harmful site, it’s like going down a rabbit hole of pop-ups and unwanted ads.  

is this website legit

HTTPS

It is essential to verify a website is valid so that your information is not compromised by hackers on illegitimate sites. Failure to double-check if the website is secure can result in your information being compromised by hackers, malware, and unreliable site administrators. There are several ways to check if you are visiting a secure site. Although, your Mac or PC may already have built-in security preferences that are used to prevent you from being harmed by visiting sites that are not secure.

URLs are web addresses that we must follow to reach the desired landing page. Most URLs begin with either HTTPS or HTTP, which is a key indicator of whether your communication to that particular web server is safe or not. Websites typically indicate they are using a safe encrypted software to secure your browsing, with a small security lock logo. If you do not see the logo or symbol, then you could be accessing a nonsecure landing page. 

Verify the URL

Before you go to a new restaurant or meet an online stranger for a date, you typically pull up the address on your GPS navigation in order to verify the address. Why do we do this? To make sure we know where we are going. Well, the same rule should apply when you are looking up a URL.   

It is important to check to see if the URL you are accessing has been duplicated by a hacker. Hackers will use identical URLs to trick and mislead users into thinking that they are visiting the original website. For example, if you are trying to access the homepage or login page for popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, then you may wind up with a false web address. As a result, any login information that you enter such as username, emails, or passwords will then be compromised.

If you typically use your cellphone as a means of logging in, then the hacker will have your cellphone number too. This type of compromise is executed once a user types in their information and sees an error message. Typically the error message will lead a user to click the “refresh page” button. Once the user has refreshed the page, the hacker has already obtained the information that they were looking to steal. If a hacker has stolen your information through an unsecure site, then this could lead to identity theft.

secure website

Login Information

Another sign of an un-secure HTTPS URL is if you know you have previously saved your user information on a login portal, and all of a sudden it’s gone. Do not re-enter your personal information to “reset” your password. This is especially the case if you previously saved it to the original site. You should also be careful if the site is randomly prompting you to enter an unusual amount of personal information to log in. The best practice in scenarios like these, is to completely exit out of your web browser and reexamine the link. If you used a search engine to pull up the link, then you may have clicked on an unauthentic duplicate link for a popular site. Hackers love to use this method to gain access to your information by posing as a secure website. 

Check the Website’s Privacy Policy

Have you ever visited a site and as soon as you reach the landing page, a notification box pops up? This is usually the website’s way of letting you know that they are safe. The notification is typically asking you to verify their privacy policy. The privacy policy of a website is in place for you to be fully aware of what type of data and information the site will potentially collect from you during your visit. The policy will also give you the option to opt-in or opt-out of certain collection methods of your personal data.

Some large corporations are required by law to incorporate a privacy policy on the landing page of their website. If a website collects your information and doesn’t have a privacy policy, it should be a red flag that the site may not be legitimate or doesn’t take your data privacy very seriously. So be sure to look for one and read through it so you understand how your information will be used. Nevertheless, when you visit the site of a major corporation do not feel pressured to opt-in on the site’s preferences.

Is this Website Legit?

Another practice for checking to see if a website is secure is through scanning it for legitimate content. It is important to make sure the site has identifiable site details that show it is an authentic webpage. For example, business emails, valid phone numbers, and real addresses are all things that would be on a secure website. Furthermore, users should check the web content for any form of malware that may be lurking in the coding of some of the site’s links or ad pages.

https 

Check if a Website is Safe

To save yourself time and the hassle of dealing with viruses or recovering from identity theft keep the following approaches in mind:

  • Verify the URL
  • Check the website’s privacy policy
  • Check for legitimate content

It’s quite unfortunate and alarming that with the development of smartphones and handheld tablets, malware can invade our luxury of conveniently accessing the latest news updates, trends, and popular culture. Thus, our society’s desire to read online material as opposed to printed material has some inevitable threats of security. This preference for digital media is a threat to our society’s overall sense of patience, security, and preference for accuracy. 

Digital content has certainly found a useful place in the interworking of our everyday lives. However, there exists an undeniable lack of education concerning the harmful security threats of poorly managed websites. 

FAQ:

  • What does HTTPS mean?
  • What is cybersecurity?
  • Is cybersecurity built into my devices?
  • How can I check if a website is safe?
  • Why should I verify a URL?

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