Sometimes clicking a link can send you to a malicious website or one filled with viruses, malware, and other dangerous content you don’t want on your device. Clicking the wrong link could lead to identity theft and financial loss, headaches, and countless hours spent restoring your computer. To avoid being a victim of cybercrime, consider the following steps to check a link before clicking it.
1. Read the URL Carefully
Many cyber criminals set up spoofed websites that can look similar to legitimate ones. To stay safe online, take a moment to read and verify the URL carefully. For instance, legitimate websites will have URLs that end in .com, .org, .net, and the like. If the URL looks odd or ends in a different extension, proceed cautiously.
2. Research the Website
Researching the website you’re about to visit will help clue you in to whether or not it’s reliable. Take a few minutes to search for customer reviews, see if the site is listed in any directories, or look for potential red flags. If reviews are overwhelmingly negative or customer support can’t be found, it’s a good sign that the website is suspicious and unsafe to browse.
3. Look at the Pop-Ups
When researching a website, be especially careful if the page is filled with numerous pop-up ads or asks you to download an application or program. These are usually a sign the website is malicious or contains malicious content. Be wary of clicking any links from the website, as they could potentially be malicious as well.
4. Inspect the Link
Hover your cursor over the link you’re about to click. Doing so will show you the URL of the link in a popup window. Look at the URL and check it against the main website’s domain address; if all the addresses match, it’s safe to click. If the addresses doesn’t match or the link looks suspicious in any way, do not click on the link.
5.Check for SSL
Before clicking a link, it’s essential to ensure the website uses a valid SSL certificate. Look for the ‘HTTPS’ (vs. ‘HTTP’) and a padlock in the address bar. This means the website uses secure encryption, and a Certification Authority has verified the website’s identity. Without a valid SSL certificate, the website could be unsecure and no warning will be displayed.
6. Install Software to Check Links
If you’re concerned about clicking on malicious links, consider installing software designed to protect you. Link Checkers, such as SiteCheck and McAfee SiteAdvisor, will check every link you click for malware and flag dangerous websites for you. They may also alert you if a website is known to have malicious content or contains a reputation for being unsafe.
7. Double-Check With a Second Opinion
If you’re still unsure about the website after following the steps above, double-check it with a trusted source before clicking the link. If you have any doubt about the authenticity of a link sent by email or text, check in with your cyber-security team. A few minutes of vetting can go a long way in helping you identify unsafe websites. Following the steps above can help you sidestep malicious links and safeguard your devices, financial information, and identity from cybercriminals.
At Circle City Web Design, we create websites that stand out from the competition so businesses can focus on running their company. If you have any questions about website security or how to keep your team safe, Book a FREE Consultation Now: Click Here.