7 Common Signs You’re On an Unsafe Website

Malware is a massive problem when it comes to computing given the nearly 1 million new threats that circulate online every day. When your computer contracts malware, it can experience hardware failure and/or potentially catastrophic data leaks.

Therein lies just a couple of the reasons why you want to safeguard yourself whenever you’re carrying out tasks online.

Malware transmission on the internet often takes place over an unsafe website. Unsafe sites are generally built for the purpose of infecting your computer, selling you scam products, or stealing your personal and financial information.

To help you side-step such sites, our team has put together a handful of easy to follow tips you can lean on which will aid in your ability to identify and avoid dangerous corners of the World Wide Web.

1. Copied Design

An unsafe website isn’t one that puts too much thought into original design. As a matter of fact, these websites like to copy design schemes from popular sites like Putlockers or Facebook in hopes of lulling you into a false sense of security.

If you notice a website that seems to be trying too hard to look like another website, be on guard. While not a sure-fire indicator that the site means to do you harm, it’s certainly a sign that extra caution is warranted.

2. Parody URLs

Similar to how an unsafe website will copy a popular website’s design, it might also copy popular URLs. For example, if you’re on a website that looks like Facebook and its URL reads “facbook.com”, you’re almost certainly on a scam site.

Always inspect the URLs you type into your web browser to ensure you’re on the site you intended to be on.

3. Ample Pop-ups

Legitimate website owners know that spamming users with pop-ups alienate them. People that are running scams though appreciate that the likelihood of you stumbling onto their site more than once is low. For that reason, they don’t mind alienation if doing so means getting a quick win.

This is why scam sites often spam users with several calls to action in an almost constant fashion. The hope here is that something will cause a user to slip up, click on something and that click will benefit the scammer in some way.

Any website that seems desperate for you to do something, especially if doing so creates a poor user experience, should be approached with skepticism.

4. Prompts to Download Software

Software downloads are the number one means of virus transmission online. You’ll want to be extra careful any time you download anything off a website, even if you’re positive a site is safe.

Bad websites that are trying to push software downloads often ask you to download something almost immediately when you click onto their home pages. Their pop-ups will be aggressive and very little context around why they need you to execute their download will be provided.

Having a good anti-virus on your computer and exercising your common sense is your best defense against downloading bad files.

5. No SSL Certificate

SSL certificates are awarded to websites that leverage data encryption. That encryption is essential on today’s internet and is showcased to users in the way of a padlock you can see to the left of a site’s URL in your web browser.

Websites that do not have SSL certificates present a risk of data interception. Never enter personal information, financial or otherwise, into a website that is not SSL secured.

6. Internet Browser Warnings

Most modern internet browsers will scan websites you click on to see if they have obvious issues that could put your security at risk. If such an issue is found, you’ll get a warning from your browser telling you not to access the site.

Your browser flagging a website is not a certain sign that the website you’re navigating to is bad. It is, however, a good initial gauge.

We recommend that if accessing a site isn’t that important to you and your web browser is telling you that the site should be avoided, you should take your browser’s advice.

7. Something Feels Off

Common sense is an outstanding tool to use when it comes to avoiding a bad website. Almost any person at any level of computer fluency can hop on a site and immediately pick up on signs that make it seem as though something is off.

Whether it’s bad grammar on a site, flashy pop-ups, or browser warnings, if something doesn’t feel right when you’re accessing a website, navigate away from it.

All it takes is one misstep to accidentally lose your banking information, address, or login credentials to a bad site that will then go and resell your data to people that mean to do you harm.

Being Able to Identify an Unsafe Website Is an Essential Web Browsing Skill

One’s ability to flag when they’ve arrived on an unsafe website is a must-have skill when surfing the web. We hope that the tips we’ve shared with you have increased your fluency on that front. Know though that the signs we’ve shared with you are by no means exhaustive.

If you’d like to learn more about online security, we implore you to dive deeper into the subject online.

Our blog features more content on safe browsing that we think will bolster your tech-savvy and safety. To explore that helpful content, head over to our blog’s directory and dive deeper into our newest write-ups!