Is This Website Safe?
Keeping the data on your computer safe is important on your home’s desktop, smartphone, laptop and tablet. We all keep things on our computers and electronic devices that we hope no one gains access to, but are your behaviours putting your data at risk? A lack of security on the electronic devices of your children is also very important because they are the most vulnerable amongst us.
If you access sites that your security software tells you could be a risk, you are putting whatever data you have on your computer into the hands of potentially nefarious characters. Often embedded URL’s in an article that you are reading point to an uncertified malicious site. There is a way though, for you to check the link before you go to it.
Is this Website Safe? Check that Link
To determine the destination of an embedded link, you can hover over it with your cursor and the destination link will be indicated at the bottom of your browser. The name of the link may have nothing to do with the article and may not be a site that you want to visit.
Another method of determining the validity of a suspicious URL is with a link scanner. These websites and plug-ins allow you to enter the suspect URL and check it for safety. One such link scanner is URL void, which is a free service.
Security Software, Your first line of Defense
Security setting in Windows gives you a firewall and the addition of antivirus software such as Norton, McAfee or Kaspersky can save you untold headaches regarding the safety of your data. This software is designed to analyze data coming to and going from your computer determining the validity of the data in its analysis. It will then accept or deny the data based on criteria that have been pre-set. Unless you override these commands and that is where you can get into trouble and open your electronic devices up to malicious attacks.
How to Know if a Website is Safe
If you are going to a site that you have never accessed and you question the validity of the site, you can investigate it before entry. This is especially important when you are purchasing software that you are downloading to your computer. Giving your financial data to a site should warrant a thorough investigation on your part that the site is secure.
There are many methods to determine if a safe website, some that require software that can analyze that site for its authenticity, but there are other methods that work well that l give you a quick way to determine if the site you are using is legitimate. If you really want to know how to check if a website is safe, keep reading.
Trustworthy SSL Certificate
If you have gone to a site to make a purchase, a donation or a contribution, you can check if the website is safe on the page where you enter your personal information. If the URL of the page begins with http, you can then safely assume that encryption is probably keeping your data safe.
However, beware that not all SSL certifications are created equal and some are not trustworthy. If you want to investigate further into the site to determine its validity there are other methods. If you come across a URL that has an outdated SSL certification, don’t go there before you further analyze the URL.
Is this Website Safe?: Analyze Your Risk
The Comodo Dragon
The Comodo Dragon browser offers safe browsing features not found on many browsers. It clearly shows in the search bar whether a site is safe by indicating the name of the company in green with a closed padlock, in the search bar and indicating the http connection status, which displays that encryption, is active. Validation is indicated by levels of security with the above mention extended validation (EV) being the highest level.
An organization validation (OV) certifies a full company validation and is a mid-level certification. Domain validated (DV) is the lowest level of certification and is indicated in yellow with a warning in the search bar. In this situation, Comodo Dragon advises that you proceed with caution as the certification is not vetted and is subject to suspicion.
Comodo offers a risk analyzer, too, that stands alone from their browser where you can have the suspect URL analyzed. This is not a quick process, as a deep analysis of the URL is performed.
Another risk analyzer, Zulu also offers a free analysis of a suspect URL by entering it into their site where they use multiple methods to reanalyze it. It will then give you a rating of its determination indicating if the site is malicious, suspicious or benign.
Is this Website Safe? Check for Viruses
Another free site, Virus Total allows you to enter the URL and they will analyze it even further by scanning it for its potential to carry a virus. If a site already has a reputation of being dangerous, virus total will likely flag it. If you have anti-virus software on your device, such as McAfee or Norton you can set it to scan every file that enters and leaves your computer. Downloads can be scanned before activation and the software can determine if it is safe to continue. If the software tells you that, the download is unsafe. STOP, and check the URL before you continue.
Similar to Virus Total is URL Void. Another free site that indicates URLs that have been blacklisted. It will show you the initial date of the URL’s registration, and when you chose ‘update report’, you will be given the latest results of suspicious URLs. When you receive your results from URL Void, Web of Trust (WOT) ratings are shown at the bottom of the page. The trust score alone should help you to determine the validity of the site. Comments can be taken with a grain of salt because the determining factors of comments are based on a wide variety of views regarding a website.
If it is Dangerous – Report It
We all like to know that there is danger before we proceed and if you have information about the danger, share it so that others will not be drawn into a bad situation. Again, antivirus software will often give you the option to report the URL, where it will be added to the list of unsafe sites to visit.
Is this Website Safe? Putting it all Together
Having proper antivirus software, and firewalls, that can determine whether a URL is safe by looking at the search bar of your browser is very important for safe browsing. Don’t make the mistake of downloading software, going to the unsafe website or entering personal data into a site when you have flags and warnings laid out in front of you that indicate you shouldn’t do so. If you do, then you are entering that site at your own risk. Now that you have checked the URL and determined that it is a safe site, you can proceed.
Keeping your Devices and Data Safe
The theft of your identity, a virus in your PC, smartphone, laptop or tablet, is not just an inconvenience it can wreck your life. Taking the time and gaining the knowledge that is required to protect yourself from online predators is imperative to keep you and your family safe. Check URLs for SSL certification and if you have any doubts take further steps to ensure that they are safe websites.
Check the devices used by your children. For young teens and children add software that prevents them from accessing sites that, they should not be in. Many of us often neglect the tools that are available that will keep us safe, and they are amazed when we become victims of the crimes of online pillagers and identity thieves. Don’t be a victim. Keep yourself and your family safe by taking preventive measures when using the internet.