How to Check if a Website Is Safe to Use | #firefox | #chrome | #microsoftedge

When you are surfing a website, checking whether it’s secure might not be the first thing that comes to mind under normal circumstances. But with an increasing number of cyberattacks, making that a priority is key.

Cybercriminals are always looking for victims to prey on. A few minutes spent on a website can expose you to several cyber threats. So how can you check a site you’re visiting is safe to use? What indicators should you look for to see if a page is secure?

Why Website Security Matters

Cybercriminals wait on you to make the slightest mistake and take advantage of it.

Surfing an unsecured website can result in damaging consequences that you didn’t bargain for.

1. Identity Theft

Entering your personal data including credit card information, social security number, and bank account details on an unsecured website can lead to identity theft.

Cybercriminals can easily retrieve your personal information from an unsecured website and impersonate you. For instance, an attacker can use your credit card information to make purchases in your name. But even something as simple as your name and date of birth could lead to problems.

2. Phishing

Unsecure websites are susceptible to phishing. A cybercriminal could pretend to be a trustworthy individual and lure you into opening a malicious message.

Once you do so, your system will be infected with malware that could freeze it or expose your sensitive data.

3. Scareware

While surfing a website, do you come across pop-up messages about your system being compromised?

That’s one of the tactics used by cybercriminals. They make you believe that your system has been infected with malware and ask you to download software to fix the issue. Instead, it’s malicious software. If you proceed to download it, your system will be compromised.

How to Check That a Website Is Secure

Despite the threats that exist online, you can’t ditch the internet completely. Being aware of the threats and taking measures to prevent them should be your main priority.

Here are a few ways to know that a website is secure for use.

1. Check for HTTPS

One quick way to measure the security of a website is to check whether its domain name is preceded by Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) and not just Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

Although websites with HTTPS aren’t 100 percent secure, they are built to resist cyberattacks to a large extent and confirm the connection is safe. The padlock on the top left of the website is a sign that it’s secure.

Related: What to Do If Google Chrome Warns a Site Is Unsecure

To be on the safe side, don’t enter your personal information on any website without HTTPS.

2. Check for Standard Payment Methods

Online payments are a norm nowadays. But before you enter your payment details, be sure that the payment method you are using is standard and verifiable.

The most common standard and verifiable online payment methods include Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. If the options offered are only wire payments, bank transfers, or cryptocurrency, you should be wary of the website. Only use payment systems that have procedures in place to protect your purchases, like PayPal.

3. Double-Check URLs

Scammers operating with fraudulent websites front as credible websites by misspelling the names of original sites to lure you into sharing your personal information.

They simply omit or change a single letter so it’s difficult for you to detect the misspelling. For instance, could be misspelled as with a zero instead of an additional letter O. Unless you pay attention, you might not notice it, so double check everything.

4. Check for a Privacy Policy

Reading a long and ambiguous privacy policy on a website may not be your cup of tea. But you should at least check there is actually one there, to be sure that you are in safe hands.

You can search for key components of the policy such as “data”,”retain”, and “third-party” by pressing Control + F on Windows and Command + F on macOS to learn how your data will be used.

5. Beware Pop-Ups

Cyberattackers often use pop-ups infected with malware to affect your system while surfing a website.

Besides regular pop-ups such as newsletter sign-ups, you should be wary of websites that display too many pop-up ads. Make it a rule to not click any pop-ups while browsing a website.

Cultivating Healthy Online Culture

While a ton of reputable organizations go about their legitimate business via websites, there are a fraction of cybercriminals that are up to no good.

Cybercrime Magazine reports that the world will lose an estimated $10.5 trillion annually to cybercrime by 2025. You can protect yourself from falling victim by doing some simple checks and staying alert when browsing the internet. Be conscious of every step you take online.

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