The Internet truly is a marvel to behold. There’s virtually nothing you can’t do on the Internet, excuse the pun. From surfing to shopping, from schooling to schmoozing, it’s the ultimate online playground. Yet, despite its glowing benefits, there are some pitfalls lurking in the shadows. Cybercriminals, hackers, and bad actors pose a significant threat to unsuspecting victims. 

These criminal syndicates prey on the hapless users who are simply going about their day-to-day business, none the wiser. Fortunately, the Internet watchdog authorities are one step ahead of them. In this behind-the-scenes expose, leading website security company, MyWOT provides fascinating insights into this topic. They specialize in the provision of website security checks, safe browsing, and alerts from malware and viruses. MyWOT has compiled a shortlist of the most important web safety checks you can implement.

It All Starts with Your Browser

Your browser is your point of call when you are searching for anything on the Internet. It’s the place that allows you to input the web address a.k.a. URL of the website you are searching for. Whenever you happen across a site, always check for the standard security protocol of HTTPS. The S at the end stands for safe and secure. Without the S, never navigate to that website. Luckily, there are additional security checks you can perform to validate the safety of a website. Look for the secure padlock in the address bar. Verify that the name of the company or service that you are looking for matches up with the verified HTTPS address. If you spot any anomalies, such as spelling errors, or omissions, navigate out and close the page.

Your Internet browser has a multitude of built-in safety mechanisms. These are designed to filter out harmful sites packed with adware, malware, Trojans, and viruses. It is strongly recommended that you use pop-up blockers, and adware blockers – they work like a charm. You can toggle different security features to allow certain websites to be accessed, while blocking others. All of these features are found in your browser settings, in Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Edge. For beefed up security – Fort Knox-style security – you may want to perform the ultimate web safety check by installing powerful software that green lights safe sites (through community assessment), and red lights unsafe sites, that are best avoided. These types of reputation icons are trusted by millions of people the world over, and they can certainly speed up the implementation of your safety and your and protocols.

Cross-Reference Security Badges & SSL Encryption Protocols On Site

At the risk of raising the alarm, you cannot blindly trust security badges that you see on a website. Any sophisticated scammer can paste a few images of padlocks or secure site certificates on their platform. How do you know that the website is guaranteed safe and secure? Back in the day, President Obama used an expression, ‘Trust, But Verify.’ There is no reason why you shouldn’t implement this advice when you’re checking the legitimacy and safety of websites that you are visiting. 

If you click on the security badges on site, they should open up to authentic websites which may or may not display the company’s name as being licensed and verified with them. Additionally, it’s a good idea to conduct your own due diligence. A simple search on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any other reputable browser should indicate if other users have found that website you are browsing problematic. If you see positive reviews, chances are it’s safe. The SSL certificate (see secure socket layer) verifies that the company has completed a validation process. If possible, pick websites with Extended Validation as opposed to Domain Validation.

Seek out Privacy Policy Information

As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking do I have to read privacy policies to know if a website is safe and secure? The answer is, maybe. Oftentimes, the most sophisticated scammers will use all manner of deceptive techniques to masquerade as a legitimate website. They may even copy your local bank’s website to perfection, changing the URL, or redirecting you from one page to another which is filled with malicious code. 

All legitimate companies take time and effort to craft privacy policies for their customers. Don’t be surprised if you don’t understand 90% of the content in a privacy policy, it’s expressly written that way for legal reasons. The mere existence of a privacy policy is a good thing, and if you read the contents they should at least provide information about how your data is used, what information the company collects, and how they share it.

Where Is the Company Located?

There are many companies that only have a virtual presence. But, ultimately every e-commerce site is owned by someone, somewhere. Always look for a physical address, telephone number, returns policy, privacy policy, AML policy, KYC policy, and so forth. This adds credibility to the company. Once again, it is important to cross-check this information on the Internet to ensure that it is legitimate. Every business in the business of doing business wants to instill trust and confidence in its user base. They will volunteer information, not hide it from you. If you cannot find company details, move on to the next site.

Richard is an experienced tech journalist and blogger who is passionate about new and emerging technologies. He provides insightful and engaging content for Connection Cafe and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest trends and developments.