Not sure whether the website you’re using is safe and secure? If it isn’t, you could be vulnerable to phishing attacks, hacking and your data being stolen. Here are the things you should be on the lookout for when you visit an unfamiliar website.
Https, not http!
Http, or https, is a collection of letters that you may be used to seeing at the beginning of a website address. Https means that the website that you’re looking at is encrypted, so any personal information that you input (and this could be anything from an email address to your card details) is sent securely to the server.
Without the https, cybercriminals can easily access information on the website. You should never put any personal details into a website that doesn’t have https at the beginning of the url - because this means it doesn’t have an SSL certificate, and your information isn’t protected as it travels from the website to a server.
Lookout for the lock
Whilst we’re on the subject of website addresses, you may also be used to seeing a little padlock at the beginning or sometimes the end of a url. If you click on that padlock, you can see if your connection is secure. You’re also able to see a bunch of other information, such as the certificate, the amount of cookies the site is using, and what the site can access (your microphone, for example).
This little padlock usually accompanies the https; it’s another indicator that the site you’re visiting is encrypting your data between itself and the server. If it isn’t there, your internet browser may send you a warning. Browsers such as Google Chrome even go as far as to prevent users from accessing websites where there is no https and padlock.
Check the reviews
Keeping an eye out for https and the padlock in the url is all well and good, but what if the website is owned by someone who wants your information? In this case, the information sent between the website and the server could still be encrypted, but the person at the other end could be trouble.
In this case, it’s worth doing your own research before putting your email address, card details or other personal information into a website you’re unfamiliar with. Search the website name along with ‘reviews’ or ‘scam’ and look critically at the results (remember, hackers can post fake reviews as well as nasty websites). If you don’t like (or don’t trust) the results, give the website a miss.
Still not sure?
Even if all of the above checks out, this doesn’t mean your information or payments will be safe. Be wary of pop ups, automatic downloads and poor english language - all of these are indicators that the site you are on isn’t trustworthy. Also keep an eye out for a lack of contact information, privacy policies and cookie policies.
Remember, if something feels off, it probably is - and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
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