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How to Shield Yourself From Malicious Websites

Hackers are getting more and more creative in their attempts to trick you into visiting dangerous websites.


The sense of wondering if you've just infected your phone or computer with a virus is familiar if you've ever clicked on a link someone sent you, say in an email or a direct message, only to be sent to a website that seemed really suspect. Hackers are getting more and more creative in their attempts to trick you into visiting dangerous websites by disguising them as benign ones.

Furthermore, the practice has spread so widely that it isn't restricted to a small number of sites or site types. It is no longer sufficient to simply be informed that a particular site is off-limits. Therefore, while viewing a website, it's critical to approach it with the mindset of a tech expert and to conduct some research before you decide to keep browsing. 

In this post, we'll look at some easy measures you can take to check the website you land on to see if it's safe and secure and see if there's any chance of data loss or malware installation.

Beware of unclear characters and misspelled URLs

In order to lure visitors into visiting their malicious websites, fraudsters frequently utilise homoglyphs, also known as homographs, assaults, and misspelled or other misleading URLs. Although it might sound like you're going to get whacked over the head with a dictionary, a homoglyph attack actually happens when threat actors register domains with names that are highly similar to others yet contain visually confusing letters or have an imperceptible addition. 

Scan malicious website

There are several online tools you may use to determine whether a website is harmful if you have a bad feeling about it or, even better, if you are considering going but haven't yet. 

One such service is Google's Safe Browsing site status tool, which allows you to paste the URL of a website and receive information on its security. VirusTotal's URL checker is another comparable tool you can use. It analyses a website's address, verifies it with a number of top-tier antivirus engines, and then provides you with a prediction of whether a specific URL might be malicious. The SANS teacher Lenny Zeltser has put together a list of tools that may be useful even if the scan comes back "clean."

To learn who owns the domain you're visiting, you can also run a "whois" search as an alternative. 'Whois' is a record that lists details about the domain you're looking for, including who owns it, when and where it was registered, and how to contact the owner. The address of the website you're looking for must be entered on a special website before you can conduct a whois inquiry. 

Whether the domain is newly registered, which could be a sign that it could be malicious, is one of the details you should be keeping an eye out for. For instance, Facebook won't be a domain that was initially registered in February 2021. If you click "display more data," and it is incomplete or full of errors, that is another indication that the domain may be malicious; although, in some cases, that could be the result of someone being negligent while entering the registration information.

Check for a privacy statement 

If you're browsing a website and unsure if it's trustworthy or not, one thing to check is whether there is a privacy policy. As they are required by data protection legislation to describe how the website handles and protects user data, every reputable website needs to have one. 

Companies that violate data protection laws, particularly the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union, may suffer substantial repercussions for privacy and security failings. Thus, if a website doesn't have a privacy policy or has one that seems deficient, that should be a pretty good indication that something is amiss and that the website doesn't care about the severe data protection rules that are enforced globally. 

Get contact details

Any trustworthy business that values establishing long-lasting relationships with its clients will have contact information readily available on its website. Typically, it includes a phone number, email address, physical mailing address, or contact form. While attempting to determine whether you're dealing with a genuine or reputable organisation, there are a number of warning indicators that you should be on the watch for. 

For instance, you will most likely be dealing with a scam if you attempt to call the provided phone number and it is disconnected or the person who answers the phone doesn't sound professional. If it passes that evaluation, then confirm by conducting a fast Google search for the business's official contact information and giving that number a call just to be safe. 

Now that you know what you should do to stay secure, you might feel like it's a tall order. In fact, there are other factors you should pay attention to as well, such as whether a website has strange advertising that keeps appearing everywhere or whether it is rife with typos and poor grammar, which may suggest that you have found a shady website. 

To summarise, you should check the website's security certificate, watch for misspellings in the URL, and preferably manually type the address if possible or only click on reliable links.
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