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How can I recognize trustworthy websites?

August 23rd, 2021 | by
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From malware to phishing – there are plenty of dangers on the Internet. (Photo: Pixabay)

Surfing the Internet is part of our everyday lives. Both in our private lives and at work, we are using the World Wide Web. We visit websites to inform ourselves, to communicate and even to shop. In the process, data from your own device will automatically be transferred to the website you are visiting and vice versa. When surfing, you should therefore critically inspect every website you visit. Just like in the real world, there are safe places on the Internet and places that you should avoid for your own safety. Nevertheless, how can you judge a website correctly and how can you distinguish between a trustworthy and an untrustworthy website? The following criteria should help you!

The encryption

One of the most important criteria for a trustworthy website is its encryption. You can tell whether your browser has been able to establish an encrypted connection with the website that you are visiting by the fact that the URL begins with “https”. This means that the transmitted data from your own device to the website you are calling up is encrypted. A so-called TLS certificate (Transport Layer Security) does this encryption. You can recognize this certificate by the small lock symbol in the status bar of your browser. However, in these days the security certificate alone is no longer sufficient to unmask an insecure website. More and more phishing sites are identified with a correct certificate.

URLs and its links

You should also take a close look at the URL of a website. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? So check whether the URL displayed in the status bar matches the address of the website you want to visit. Especially with links, you should look at the target URL before you click on it. If you move the mouse cursor over a link, the target URL is displayed at the bottom left of the browser window in most browsers. However, tricks are often used to confuse users. One popular deception method is the use of long and complicated links. Users quickly lose track of what they are looking at. Another well-known method is the use of so-called short URLs. With short URLs, the actual URL is shortened with the help of certain tools. Popular providers here include bit.ly and TinyURL. If the mouse cursor is moved over such a link, only the short URL is displayed. Users therefore often only find out what is behind the link after clicking on it.

Contact options

The imprint obligation applies to German websites. The operator of a website is obliged to provide certain information about his identity. According to the law, an imprint must contain, among other things, a name, address and a way to quickly contact the owner of the website (for example, a telephone number or e-mail address). The following applies: You should not trust websites in which no direct contact person is reported.

Privacy policy

Reputable websites should also have a page for their privacy policy. When providing a website, a privacy policy is mandatory in Germany as well as in many other countries. The privacy policy is often located in somewhat smaller font at the bottom or top of a web page, or as with us in the disclaimer.

The text design

The content of a website can also be revealing. If a website contains countless spelling and grammatical errors, it generally strikes us as unserious. In the case of online stores, these errors could also indicate bad intentions. So-called “fake stores” are usually based abroad and their operators do not have the necessary language skills. Texts are copied from other websites and poorly translated. If you notice many mistakes in an online store, you should rather not shop on that website.

Excessive advertising

Advertising itself is not bad. However, if you are confronted with a large number of pop-ups when you visit a website, you can also assume that the visited website is not very trustworthy. Generally, this type of advertising is meant to do what advertising does: generate money. However, some of these pop-up windows may offer downloads for installation. These windows try to deceive users by disguising themselves as update windows for antivirus programs or browsers. In a serious case, malware may be hiding behind them.

 

Some dangers lurk while surfing! Often it is not easy to recognize dubious websites and cybercrime always finds new ways. Think carefully about which links you click on and whether the registration and entry of personal data is necessary for the use of the visited website.

 

Responsible for the content of this article is Stéphanie Bauens.

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