HomeSecurity6 Tell-Tale Signs Of An Unsafe Website

6 Tell-Tale Signs Of An Unsafe Website

Malware Virus Hacker There are plenty of unsafe websites, so internet users should be very careful about how they spend their time online. Unsafe websites can steal your data and cause many other kinds of damage. That’s why cybersecurity tools like antivirus software, firewalls, password managers, cloud storage solutions and similar are so important today.

If you’re wondering how to recognize an unsafe website, this article is for you. Let’s look at six tell-tale signs of an unsafe website:

No SSL certificate/HTTPS

https ssl website security An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) authenticates a website and enables an encrypted connection. Google estimates that 85% of internet traffic is encrypted, which is a positive sign. However, unencrypted traffic is still prevalent among popular websites.

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The easiest way to recognize whether a website is encrypted is to look at whether it has “https” in its address. HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP – the main protocol for exchanging internet traffic between a web browser and a user. You can also tell by the small lock icon that usually sits to the left of the address bar. If the lock icon is there, it means the traffic on that site is encrypted.

Most browsers will even warn you before accessing an unsafe website, telling you that the connection to that server is unencrypted. Use that as a sign to back away and reaffirm that’s the website you want to visit.

Faulty website design

Not all websites have a perfect UI and seamless performance, and that’s okay. But if a website has many design faults, it’s likely that the owner has malicious intent or didn’t care enough to think about security when creating the site. Whatever the case, avoid websites with faulty designs.

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Design faults may also include grammatical errors, misspellings, or anything else that seems off. Sure, grammatical mistakes can happen to anyone, but they’re very rare among legit websites, especially larger organizations.

If a website looks like someone made it in a hurry, it’s likely unsafe.

Too many pop-ups

intrusive pop ups and ads Pop-ups are fairly common, even among popular legitimate websites. However, if you constantly get pop-ups unrelated to the site’s content, use that as a sign to back away. Sites with too many pop-ups are spammy and may contain malware.

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Pop-ups asking you to join the website’s newsletter are OK. Pop-ups asking you to buy or “claim” something off another site are NOT OK.

Pop-ups are usually there to grab your attention with something like an award to get your personal information. Pro tip: Never believe a pop-up saying you’ve won the latest iPhone.

Vague or no contact information

Website visitors, especially buyers, often look for contact information to ensure a website’s legitimacy. That’s a good strategy, as most fake websites have missing or vague contact information.

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Secure websites usually have a contact email, phone number, and physical address. Some may even have social media accounts, which is another way to check the site’s reputation and legitimacy.

If a website is missing basic contact information, you should think twice about using it. A missing “About Us” page is also a sign of an unsafe website, as it’s often the first page site owners work on.

Malware signs

hacker stealing data Here are some signs that a website is infected with malware:

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  • Malicious redirects: the parent site redirects you to another website often without you doing anything to warrant such an action
  • Malvertising: there’s an overwhelming amount of ads that are clearly fake and look unprofessional, with plenty of grammar or spelling mistakes. They may advertise a cure for cancer or a “hack” that makes you grow taller.
  • SEO spam: unsafe websites use several tricks to end up higher in search results. SEO spam is one of them. You may notice several keywords repeating throughout the site. Another sign of SEO spam is the presence of unusual links in the comment section.

Prices are too good to be true

Many scam e-commerce websites sell in-demand “items” at ridiculously low prices. Their only goal is to get someone to enter their financial information. If someone is selling a Gucci bag for 4.99$, it’s likely a scam.

Some of these fake online stores look very sophisticated and legitimate. Apart from the low prices, payment methods are another way of recognizing a fake store. These stores will usually only take wire transfers, coupons, or cryptocurrency, as that’s the only way they can get it without getting in legal trouble.

Final thoughts

Illegitimate websites rarely find themselves at the top of Google search results. This leaves little room for you to end up on an unsafe site. If you feel like you have, the six signs covered in this article should tell you whether you’re right.

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Finally, don’t forget to read the privacy policies for the websites you visit. Even if a website is legitimate, you may not like how they handle your data.