Whenever we do a web search and encounter a page we’ve never seen before, the little voice inside our head always asks: is this website safe? It’s good to be careful, and it’s vital to vet a website before sharing any personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords, addresses, etc.
But what are some important keys to remember to keep your web browsing safe? Here are some helpful tips that we hope will provide you with a safer Internet experience.
1. Utilize a website safety tool
You can quickly check if a website or URL is safe, with a website safety checker like Google Safe Browsing. According to their page, “Google’s Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites.”
2. Double-check URLs
You can always perform your own website safety test by moving your mouse over any link to verify the URL it’s really linked to. Remember also to make sure URLs are spelled correctly, too. Most people only glance over the text on the web. Cybercriminals realize this and will often substitute visually similar characters (e.g., “Paypa1.com” instead of “Paypal.com”) and trick victims into visiting their sites. Don’t fall for this scheme. It only takes a moment to verify a URL is safe to visit.
3. Check for HTTPS
HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the fundamental protocol for sending data between your browser and the websites you frequent. HTTPS is the secure version of this as the “S” stands for “secure” HTTPS is often used for online shopping and banking sites. It encrypts communications to prevent criminals from stealing information like credit card numbers and passwords. How do you know if a site uses HTTPS? Check for a padlock icon in your browser’s navigation bar. If you see it, you can trust that the site you’re on is using a trusted SSL digital certificate and your connection is secured.
5. Don’t blindly trust so-called “trust” badges
Trust badges, or trust “seals” regularly appear on e-shopping sites to display trustworthiness. Although many legitimate sites use these, they’re also not very hard to add. Many sites copy and paste these icons, without having any real legitimacy to them. In fact, many articles on the web advise e-commerce sites to make up their own trust seals to increase their sales. So don’t fall for a false seal and always verify the site is real!