Online Safety 101: How to Identify Unsafe Websites

The average American spends 24 hours online each week. That’s a lot of web browsing.

By now, the internet is a way of life. We use it for just about everything from email and social media to online shopping and banking. The world wide web has certainly made us operate our lives more efficiently and effectively.

Despite the good the internet has brought to our lives, it’s also created a new landscape for crime. There are many out there who use it to steal the identity, data, and money of others. Unsafe websites leave us vulnerable to these and other crimes.

But how do you identify which websites are dangerous? Here’s everything you need to know to stay safe online.

Read URLs Carefully

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. These URLs are the addresses for web pages. To visit a website, you type its URL into the browser that you’re using.

When you land on a website, before proceeding, doublecheck the URL to make sure that you’re in the right place. It’s easy for criminals to mimic popular websites – like banks and shopping sites – by misspelling them by just one letter. At a quick glance, you might think you’re in the right place and move forward with putting in your banking and other critical information.

Also, check to see that the website’s URL begins with HTTPS. The HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. If a website has that additional S, this indicates that it’s encrypted. This additional security is provided by an SSL certificate.

Use a URL Scanner

If you have additional concerns that a website you’re visiting is riddled with dangerous malware, use a URL scanner to check its safety. There are plenty of free URL scanners, such as Google’s Transparency Report, that continuously examine URLs to determine if websites are unsafe or not. These scanners let you know if there is unsafe content and other critical information about a website’s safety.

Look for a Website’s Privacy Policy

You should be able to easily find any website’s privacy policy, which lets you know how your data is being collected, stored, and used. Many countries even have strict data privacy laws that require these policies to be prominently displayed for visitors to read.

Some websites sell and share your data with other companies. If you don’t want this to happen, it helps to know in advance how they use your information. This should be spelled out clearly in their privacy policies.

Search for a Trust Seal

Many websites display a trust seal to instill confidence in its visitors. This is especially important on e-commerce and banking sites where you’re likely to input your financial and other sensitive information.

It’s nice to view a trust seal on a website, but you should also verify it yourself to make sure it’s legitimate. This is easy to do. All you need to do is click on the image of the badge, which should take you to a verification page on a third-party security website.

Find Legal Ways to Stream Free Movies

Who doesn’t love curling up on the couch to watch a good movie or to binge their favorite television program? Even better if you can save a few dollars by finding a trustworthy site to stream free movies.

The free file-hosting and streaming website Putlocker was a game-changer when it first launched. However, there have been many questions about its legality and safety. There’s no way of knowing what is attached to the files you download or stream. There are plenty of free and low-cost Putlocker alternatives available that are safer and don’t come with the same piracy concerns.

Weird Popups Could Mean Unsafe Websites

Pop-ups on websites are normal. But if give a popup a closer look and something seems off, meaning the popup has nothing to do with the content of the website, then you could be at risk of malware and viruses.

Good news. Many browsers will allow you to block popups altogether. If you block popups and still see them, though, there’s a chance the website you’re visiting has been compromised.

Understand Your Browser’s Safety Features

All the major browsers – Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Apple’s Safari – have built-in security features to keep you safe when visiting websites. These safety tools are a godsend when it comes to protecting your data online.

These browsers block suspicious popups and can alert you if there are security issues with any websites that you visit. Many browsers also disable concerning Flash content, stop unintentional downloads, and control which websites can access your camera and microphone. It’s important to update your browser regularly to make sure it has access to the latest security features.

Take an Online Safety Course

Whether you’re an average person surfing the web or you’re monitoring internet usage for a company, you might consider taking an online safety course. You can find courses for every circumstance – from tutorials for children to higher-level expert classes geared towards professionals.

These online safety courses cover a range of topics. They’ll help you understand file-sharing networks, secure internet connections, privacy settings, safe web browsing, secure online shopping, and more.

Want More Tech News and Tips?

Now that you know how to detect unsafe websites, check out our blog to stay up to date on the latest technology tips and tricks. Tech Featured is dedicated to bringing you interesting tech news across a variety of topics – gadgets, cybersecurity, gaming, how-to tutorials, and mobile devices.

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