How to identify a secure website
These days, the average American spends an estimated 506 minutes of every day consuming media. Around 30 percent of this is via the internet, a share that is growing year on year as we slowly but surely turn away from printed, television and radio sources.
Put another way, that equates to an average two and a half hours online per person per day. The average webpage visit is less than a minute. So, that adds up to every American visiting, on average, around 200 webpages every single day.
When you look at it like that, you start to see why the question of internet security becomes so important. You can extrapolate the numbers out in all sorts of ways – webpages visited in your household per week can easily hit five figures. Even if 99 percent of those pages are secure, that’s 100 questionable pages per week. But are 99 percent secure? Or are the numbers even more frightening?
We all have a conceptual understanding about internet security, but it is important to follow some tangible guidelines to keep yourself, your family and your personal data safe and secure. Here are some tips.
If you are likely to be conducting a financial transaction, then encryption is absolutely essential to ensure that nobody else is able to observe your personal details. Any e-commerce business should operate on an encrypted site. It is easy to tell – just look in the address bar, and the web address should begin with “https” – you will also see a secure-looking padlock. Non-encrypted sites just say “http,” and are often flagged red for danger.
The best sites will also have external accreditation to demonstrate that their encryption is up to snuff. You will see this in the most popular ecommerce sites, such as Amazon, and in other places where people need to transfer money. As a case in point, those of us who regularly buy CA lottery tickets or play other lotteries typically buy tickets online, so this kind of secure site is absolutely vital.
These days, even sites where we are not conducting financial transactions are typically encrypted, and that can only be good news for everyone – except, of course, the hackers.
2) Beware of phishing
One of the most popular scams among hackers is to trick you into visiting an unsafe site by sending you a seemingly legitimate link by email. This is known as phishing. Always think twice before clicking on links, and check the URL both before and after you click on it.
A favorite trick is for scam websites to imitate real ones, for example your bank or even your social media page, then trick you into entering personal information. One thing they cannot copy is the URL, which is why it is so important to check this closely.
3) Learn “about” the site
If a site is genuine, it will go out of its way to share information about the organization it represents and the people behind it. This is typically done via an “about” page. If there isn’t one, or it is empty, the alarm bells should start ringing. The next thing to look for is a “contact” page. If there is nothing here either, it might be time to leave the site and not come back.
4) Is it professional?
The fact is that anyone can buy a domain and pay for a year’s hosting for the price of a couple of cups of coffee and a sandwich. That means there are inevitably all sorts of shady operators out there. Do not overlook the power of intuition and gut instinct in telling the good ones from the bad.
If a site is full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, that is a good indication it was created in a hurry by less than professional individuals.
5) Check for certifications
If you take a look at the lotteries page we cited earlier, you will notice two certification marks, for Authorize.Net and BBB accreditation. They are the best indications you can get that not only are the site owners confident it is secure, but they have obtained external certification to prove it.
Be careful where you go
If you or your family were spending two to three hours of every day wandering the streets of a city, you would be quick to offer advice and guidance on where is safe, where to avoid, and how to tell the difference. The online world is no different. To stay safe online keep the above points in mind, and make sure your loved ones do likewise.