We all browse the internet for all sorts of things. However, no matter how great the internet can be, danger can also be lurking at every corner. The internet houses over 1.86 billion websites and it is estimated that at least 1% of these websites are infected with malware. What this means is that there are 18,500,000 potential websites on the web that can cause harm in the form of a cyber-attack. On average, these websites experience at least 44 attacks daily!
As users, it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on important aspects to watch out for, for a safe online experience. Thankfully, there are several identifiers that you can use to spot if the website you are on is a safe one.
Here is a list of signs that you can look out for an unsafe website:
The very first thing you should look out for is the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. This certificate uses secure technology to authenticate websites, as well as encrypting information sent to the server. There are 4 ways of identifying whether the website you are on has an SSL certificate.
- Firstly, SSL certified websites will have a lock icon before its USL in the address bar.
- Secondly, the URL should also begin with ‘HTTPS’ before the domain name.
- Then, you should also be able to locate an SSL certificate badge somewhere along with the site.
- And lastly, the address bar of a certified website should be green in colour.
Legitimate websites will typically display trust seals for certificates of authentication which you can find either on the header (top) or footer (bottom) of the website. These trust seals are awarded by authorized internet security firms such as McAfee or Norton and are a sign that they are protected by SSL, and also notifies of when the last malware scam occurred.
Nevertheless, some scammers might also display fake trust seals. Therefore, to make sure that the trust seals are authentic, try clicking on the seals. If it is an authentic seal, you should be redirected to another site which provides more information on the accreditation.
Besides identifying a site’s SSL certificates and trust seals, here are also some identifiers that the website might be compromised by malware.
- If the page you are on keeps having pop-ups, it is most likely an infected site. Pop-ups are like a minefield where it entices you to click on it. But be sure not to fall for them as clicking them might cause you to download harmful malware.
- Then, another way to identify malware is by watching out for malicious ads. Malicious ads are typically far fetched ads that promise ‘miracle’ cures or fake news. They are quite easy to spot as they usually look unprofessional with spelling or grammatical errors. These ads are again, designed to trick you into clicking on them, which will cause you to unknowingly download malware onto your device.
- Lastly, phishing sites are another thing that’s designed to trick users. These are sites that look like legitimate authority sites such as banking sites that are designed to trick users into entering sensitive information such as bank information. You can spot these by watching out for spelling and grammatical errors. Alternatively, if the URL you enter directs you to another site that looks suspicious, this could be a malicious directory and you should abort the page immediately.
While cyber-attacks can happen to anyone and everyone. Unfortunately, research shows that internet scammers are now beginning to target the elderly. But with the simple tell-tale signs above, we can all be wearier when browsing the web in order to avoid cyber-attacks of any form. Everyone uses the internet, and therefore everyone has the responsibility to ensure a secure browsing experience. Be sure to look out for these red flags the next time you are using the internet!