Have you ever heard of phishing websites? No matter which operating system or email provider you use, you must have received a phishing email at least once. There are crooks out there that simply can’t wait to lay their hands on your financial information and steal your money. Checking whether a certain website is safe can be a bit tricky, but there are tools that will make it easier. Here are some tips that will help you detect malicious websites.
Browse with care
The first thing you should remember is that your browsing habits can protect you from most of the scams. Always remember to double-check all URL before entering your login credentials and never click on any links in emails appearing to be from your bank. Even if they are legitimate emails, it’s always best to simply type the URL. And when you are on the login page, check the verification information located left of the address bar. In addition to that, most legitimate sites that require you to log in use HTTPS instead of HTTP in the URL, so make sure the “S” is there.
Check all links sent your way
Like everybody else, you must get tons of links shared with you via Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and other social networks. Most of those links are from your friends and don’t lead to any malicious websites. But there is always a chance that someone will send you a link to a phishing website. Fortunately, there are ways to check links out before visiting the pages they lead to.
First of all, remember to hover your mouse over the link before clicking on it. Doing that will display the actual link in the bottom-left corner of your browser. This way you will detect masked links (like this link says Google.com but it actually leads to FileInspect.com).
In addition to using your common sense, there are tools that will tell you if a link is malicious or not. Firefox and Chrome have Google Safe Browsing built in (which is something). You can also use Google Safe Browsing to manually diagnose websites. Just type http://google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=[site you want to check, i.e. fileinspect.com] in your browser’s address bar and hit Enter.
There are also free tools, such as AVG LinkScanner and Web of Trust (WOT) that will warn you of any malicious links.
And last but not least, remember to keep your antivirus fully updated. Most antiviruses provide protection against phishing scams and identity theft.
Follow these simple tips and you will have a safer browsing experience.