It’s pretty easy to run into a scam or illegal website when browsing the Internet. These deceptive websites could come off as highly professional or legitimate, and surfers would hardly notice the red flags suggesting otherwise.
The implications of visiting a malicious website are even scarier when you consider that Americans lost over $10 billion to internet scams in 2022. While we’re not likely to see scammers vanish from the Internet, you can increase your security online by taking heed of a few tips we’ll show here.
Meanwhile, if you’re a fan of online gaming, this list of the top 10 US online poker sites presents non-malicious and verified sites in the iGaming niche. You’re safer online by surfing and playing for real money only on sites verified as genuine or recommended by trusted sources.
Here’s how to check a website’s security and stay scam-proof.
Check for Errors in the Site’s Address
One of the easiest ways to check a website’s security is by previewing the URL in the address bar in your window. This method helps identify scammers who want to replicate an authentic brand or website. For example, if the genuine site reads ‘goodsite.com,’ a fake replica could read ‘g00dsite.com’.
Additionally, a fraudulent website could begin with ‘http’ instead of ‘https’ at the beginning of the URL. HTTPS and HTTP are codes that depict a website’s Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate. The SSL certificate secures all data from your browser to the site’s server.
Although not all websites with HTTP are insecure, the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) alternative ensures secure data transfers and communication online. HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol), on the other hand, doesn’t provide the HTTPS technology that keeps your browsing more private and secure. So, if you discover a website you’re on uses HTTP, you want to be cautious while on it and avoid uploading any vital information that someone could use against you there.
The Lock-Icon Test
All major sites have a lock icon next to the address notifying users that the address is safe for use. For instance, on the web address of this site, you’ll find a small lock icon on the top left side of your window. That indicates that HTTPS is in place.
Conversely, a website that doesn’t have the lock icon or an alert or cross symbol next to the address doesn’t have HTTP in place. Your browser can’t verify its safety. Of course, not all sites without the lock icon are unsafe, but many are. You want to exercise caution when surfing a website in this category or use other methods we’ll show you to verify the site’s health.
Evaluate the Site’s Security Using Security Tools
Various security tools online help users evaluate or determine a website’s security. A common category of these security tools includes antiviruses. Some digital security tools prevent you from continuing on a site when it has no (or an expired) SSL certificate.
Some tools pre-evaluate the site and let you decide whether or not you want to continue browsing a suspicious website. Browser plugins are in this category. That said: VPN and pen-testing services may also help at this stage.
Lastly, Google Safe Browsing is another excellent way to evaluate a site’s safety before surfing its pages. Its advantage is that it uses Google’s database to analyze billions of pages, increasing your chances of identifying harmful sites. Remember, though, to ensure you carefully research a company’s reputation before purchasing their antivirus.
A website with too many banners blinking with exaggerated promotions or extraordinarily low product prices is a top indication of an unhealthy page. These sites often mirror websites common in the 90s or early 2000s. However, some users ignore these features and give in to the spammy site.
Check the Website (or Company’s) Online Reviews or Social Media Presence
The Internet is full of new companies or brands offering products and services. While some of these companies are genuine, it’s crucial to do some little research around them to ensure they’re legit.
One way to achieve that is to check their social media presence. A company with few followers or suspicious/unusual content might be criminal behind the scenes. Otherwise, check online reviews on sites like Reveiws.io or Trustpilot to cross-check the page’s legitimacy.
Avoid pages with many one-star ratings or complaints of scams or terrible customer experiences. You want to use credible review sites as fraudulent sites also create false positive reviews to lure visitors. On the other end of the spectrum, sites with no reviews may be highly suspect.
Tech companies are investing in security today more than ever. Users also want to do their due diligence while navigating the web to avoid potential scams or data thefts. These five steps are crucial in helping you stay safe online. Your best bet is combining all these five steps and related security measures to ensure you are surfing safely.
(Devdiscourse’s journalists were not involved in the production of this article. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)