There are many indicators that a website might not be safe. Suspicious pop-ups, spelling/grammar errors, and content that promotes celebrity scandals or “miracle cures” are a few red flags.
Luckily, there are also some easy ways to tell whether a site is secure. Here are a few things to look for: 1. Check the URL.
1. Look at the URL
The URL is the address of a website, and it can tell you quite a bit about whether a site is safe or not. For example, if the URL contains multiple dashes or symbols, this is likely an indication that the website is fraudulent. Another thing to look for in the URL is spelling or grammar mistakes.
Make sure that the site is using HTTPS, which encrypts your information to prevent cybercriminals from reading it. You can also check the site’s security certificate to see if it is legitimate.
Search engines often warn you about sites that may be hacked or contain malware. If a website has a warning, it is best to avoid visiting it. In addition, you can use link scanners to check the safety of a website before clicking on it. These are websites Visit Is Legit or Scam and plug-ins that scan links for safety, helping you avoid unsafe sites. Some of them are free, while others cost a subscription fee.
2. Look at the Security Certificate
If the URL starts with https, the website uses a secure SSL certificate. This encrypts your data so hackers cannot steal it as it travels from your computer to the company’s server.
The security certificate also identifies the website’s owner and displays a trust indicator. This is usually a reputable logo or badge that shows the site meets specific security standards. It is important to check both the certificate and the trust indicator to determine whether or not a site is legit.
If you click the padlock icon in the URL bar, a small pop-up window should appear with a summary of the certificate information. You can expand the Details section to see more detail about the certificate. This will include information such as the certificate common name, organization name, and expiration date. You should be leery of a website that has a certificate that has expired, especially for a couple of years. This could mean that the site has been compromised by a cybercriminal and is stealing your personal information to make money.
3. Look at the Design
Malicious websites are created quickly by cybercriminals, and they often miss eye-catching design features that legitimate sites have. The content may also contain many spelling and grammatical mistakes, as well as annoying pop-ups or malware ads.
The sites may imitate the look of popular retail stores, financial providers, or even news outlets to steal private information or inject malicious software into visitors’ computers. For example, a fake PayPal website can trick unwitting shoppers into entering their payment information.
A safe site will display email, phone, and physical address information in its contact section. A real address is a great indicator of a genuine business and will give you confidence that the company cares about your privacy and safety. A fake site will have a fictional or vague address and is less likely to be legitimate. Also, if the website displays Google’s “deceptive site ahead” warning, this is a red flag that should not be ignored.
4. Look at the Contact Information
A website’s contact information says a lot about the company behind it. A trusted site will display a phone number, an email address, a physical address (if applicable), and social media account details. A website without any of these is suspicious and should be avoided.
Many cybercriminals create malicious websites that mimic high-traffic, trusted sites. This is done to trick unsuspecting users into logging in or making a purchase, which gives the attacker access to their private information. They may also sell that info on the Dark Web for a profit.
Use tools like Clario cybersecurity software to check for common hacking threats. Be sure to fix any issues before resubmitting your website for review with Google, and don’t forget that other browsers might still display warnings until you clear them through their processes as well. Once your site is cleared with Google, it will automatically appear clean in other browsers.