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How to Tell if a Website is Safe or Not

If you want to stay safe online being proactive is better than being reactive. You don’t need to bother going through the hassle of getting rid of malicious software on your computer if you never got any on it to begin with. We all know big websites such as Google, Facebook or Youtube are safe to use but when visiting a new lesser known website how can we tell if it’s safe or not? It pays to be cautious when browsing the web so in this article we’ll take you through a few checks you can perform to tell if a website is a legitimate service or a front for a scammer to infect your computer with malware or even steal sensitive information by tricking you into putting your card details into the website.

Look for the lock. When you have your web browser open, take a look at the address bar (it’s where you type in the name of the website). Do you see a small padlock symbol on the left? The padlock shows that information sent from your browser to the website is encrypted. Put simply any sensitive information such as passwords or card details is hidden from everyone except the website itself. 

Make sure the name of the website is spelled correctly. Sometimes scammers will create websites which mimic the names of popular well known websites to take advantage of people mistyping. For example they may create a website called ‘www.amazpn.co.uk’ to look like ‘www.amazon.co.uk’. While it may seem obvious that there is a spelling error here, if the website looked exactly the same as the original and you only glanced at the address bar could you say for certain that you would notice? To avoid this try setting bookmarks for your most visited websites that way you’ll never have to worry about it.

Check the website’s contact information. A legitimate company is always going to have some way for you to reach them such as a phone number or at least an email address. Check to see if they have a social media presence such as a Facebook or Twitter account representing the company. If you’re unsure don’t hesitate to get in touch with them, if anything seems suspicious then avoid.

Are you bombarded with pop-ups and intrusive advertisements? Generally legitimate websites will not cause pop-ups, they’re annoying and turn people away from using their website. Illegitimate websites have been known to send pop-ups that are difficult to close and try to mislead the user into thinking they have a virus and must call a fake tech support number and pay money to regain access to their computer. These are always malicious, no real tech support company would do this. 

See what other people are saying about the website. If you’re still unsure then try Googling the website, perhaps other people have already been talking about it and discovered that it’s illegitimate. You can also use services such as www.TrustPilot.com or www.urlvoid.com just input the name of the website you want to check and these services will give you some extra information and allow you to see reviews from other people.

So there’s a few ways for you to make sure you’re safe online, follow these rules to minimise any risk and you should have no problems when surfing the web. Thanks for reading and stay safe.

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