How do you know if a site is safe?

Internet Security

When browsing the internet it can be difficult to determine whether a website is safe or not. Most scam websites will look exactly like the original, which can make it challenging to know which is which. So here are a couple of tips to help you surf the net safely.

Check the URL

When you look at the URL of a website, you will probably see that all the legit sites will have an “S” after the “HTTP.” This is called the SSL certificate and it means that the site is secured. The SSL certificate secures all the data that passes from your browser to the website’s server. To get this the company needs to go through a validation process. However, the “https” isn’t the most secure way to validate a site.

The highest and safest level of validation is Extended Validation (EV). For a company to get an EV they have to prove their identity as well as the legitimacy of their business. You can check if a site has an EV by looking at the address bar. The browsers will show a green address bar with the lock icon. So always be sure to check the URL and the address bar when on the net.

Verify the link

There are many online services that you can use if you want to verify a link to a video, website, etc. You can start with Google Safe Browsing, which will let you know if the site has hosted malware in the past 90 days. hpHosts is also simple enough to use as you just need to enter the address in the search box and it will tell you if the site has been used in phishing attacks and to distribute malware. Norton Safe Web and Unmasked Parasites are two other sites that you can use to verify links.

Look at the Domain

These days Cyber attackers have gone as far as creating websites that look exactly like other existing sites. This is so they can trick people into logging into the site or into purchasing something. For example, someone purchases the domain name gumTree.co.za, they set up a website at that location and make it look exactly the same as gumtree.co.za.

They then try and trick users, through sending emails and other methods, into logging into their accounts or purchasing items. This is why you should always look at the domain name. If you get an email with a link from your bank account or online vendor, then don’t click on the link. Always type in the website’s URL separately to make sure you are going to the correct site.

Confirm that the company is real

If you’re looking to purchase things online, here are a few ways that you can check if a site is legit. Firstly, a legitimate company will have a physical address and phone number. This is generally so you can contact them if you have a problem. A reputable site will also have a return policy, shipping policy, and a privacy statement. The privacy statement tells you how they protect your information and if they give your information to third parties. If the site has none of these then you shouldn’t purchase from them.

So next time you’re unsure whether the link you have goes to a safe website, check it against these tips. This way you’ll know just how safe the site is.

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