Beware of Malicious Websites

Recently updated on January 6th, 2024

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The internet is a vast and wonderful place, but it also has its dangers. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to trick unsuspecting users into visiting malicious websites, stealing their personal information, or infecting their devices with malware. How can you protect yourself from these online threats? One of the easiest and most effective ways is to check the security of a website before you visit it or enter any sensitive data. In this blog post, we will show you how to do that using some simple methods and tools.

Beware of Malicious Websites: How to Check for Site Security Issues

Check the URL in the address bar

One of the easiest ways to check a website’s security is by previewing the URL in the address bar in your window. This method helps identify scammers who want to replicate an authentic brand or website. For example, if the genuine site reads ‘goodsite.com,’ a fake replica could read ‘g00dsite.com’.

Some things to look for in the URL are:

  • The protocol: A secure website will use HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), which means that the data exchanged between your browser and the website is encrypted and protected from eavesdropping. You can tell if a site uses HTTPS by looking for a padlock icon or the word “Secure” next to the URL. If you see HTTP (without the S), it means that the site is not secure, and you should avoid entering any personal or financial information on it.
  • The domain name: A domain name is the part of the URL that identifies the website, such as google.com or amazon.com. A legitimate website will have a clear and consistent domain name that matches its brand and purpose. A fake or malicious website may have a domain name that is misspelled, contains random numbers or symbols, or uses a different top-level domain (such as .xyz or others, instead of .com).
  • The subdomain: A subdomain is an optional part of the domain name that comes before the main domain, such as blog.goodsite.com or shop.goodsite.com. A subdomain can be used to create different sections or categories within a website. However, some scammers may use subdomains to trick users into thinking that they are visiting a legitimate site, when in fact they are not. For example, a fake site may use a subdomain like goodsite.paypal.com, which looks like it belongs to PayPal, but it actually does not. To avoid this, always check the main domain name and make sure it matches the site you want to visit.

Use a website security checker tool

Another way to check a website’s security is by using a tool that scans the site for malware, viruses, blacklisting status, website errors, out-of-date software, and malicious code. 

There are many free and paid tools available online that can help you do this. One example is Sucuri SiteCheck, which is a free website security scanner that checks any URL for security issues. To use Sucuri SiteCheck, you just need to enter the URL of the site you want to check and click on “Scan Website”. The tool will then display a report with the results of the scan, including any warnings or recommendations for improving the site’s security.

Beware of Malicious Websites, website security check

Beware of Malicious Websites, website security check

Some of the information that Sucuri SiteCheck provides are:

  • Malware: This shows if the site has been infected with any malicious software that can harm your device or steal your data.
  • Blacklist: This shows if the site has been flagged as unsafe by any website security authorities, such as Google, PhishTank, etc.
  • Outdated software: This shows if the site is running an outdated CMS (Content Management System) or vulnerable plugins and extensions that can expose it to hackers.
  • Website firewall: This shows if the site has a firewall that protects it from attacks and speeds up its performance.
  • SSL certificate: This shows if the site has a valid SSL certificate that encrypts the data exchanged between your browser and the site.

Another popular tool from the Google

Google’s Safe Browsing site status tool allows you to check whether a website is currently considered to be dangerous by Google. The tool uses Google’s constantly updated lists of unsafe web resources to determine the safety status of a website.

Check the site’s privacy policy and terms of service

A third way to check a website’s security is by reading its privacy policy and terms of service. These are documents that explain how the site collects, uses, and protects your personal information, as well as what rights and responsibilities you have as a user. 

A reputable website will have a clear and transparent privacy policy and terms of service that comply with applicable laws and regulations. A shady or fraudulent website may have vague, incomplete, or misleading privacy policy and terms of service that do not respect your privacy or rights.

Some things to look for in the privacy policy and terms of service are:

  • The type of information collected: This shows what kind of personal information (such as name, email address, credit card number, etc.) the site collects from you and why.
  • The use of cookies and other tracking technologies: This shows how the site uses cookies and other technologies (such as web beacons, pixels, etc.) to track your online activity and preferences.
  • The sharing of information with third parties: This shows if and how the site shares your information with other entities (such as advertisers, partners, affiliates, etc.) and for what purposes.
  • The security measures in place: This shows how the site protects your information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
  • The opt-out options: This shows how you can control or limit the collection and use of your information by the site or by third parties.
  • The dispute resolution process: This shows how you can contact the site or file a complaint if you have any issues or concerns regarding its privacy policy or terms of service.

Conclusion

Checking a website’s security is an important step to take before you visit it or enter any sensitive data on it. By following the methods and tools we discussed in this blog post, you can easily and quickly verify if a site is secure or not. Remember, always be careful and vigilant when browsing the web, and never trust a site that looks suspicious or too good to be true. Stay safe online!

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