Are You Shopping on Untrustworthy Sites?

Beware the deals. It only takes one click.  

In September of 2020, Google’s Safe Browsing report counted nearly 1,960,000 phishing websites on the internet. Can you be confident that you haven’t clicked on a few untrustworthy sites yourself? 

Staying up-to-date on current online threats – and knowing how to spot them – is a pivotal part of keeping your sensitive information out of the hands of bad actors, especially right now. During the holiday season when eCommerce stores are at their busiest, fraudulent sites take advantage of frantic online shoppers just like you and me to steal private data.  

In short, antivirus and malware protection software are no longer enough to keep you safe from cybercrime. Securing your data has to start with you.  

Here’s what you need to know about untrustworthy sites.  

What Does Untrustworthy Mean?

When we say “untrustworthy sites” there are a few different types of threats we could be referring to. 

First and foremost among them are phishing websites, which are malicious sites set up specifically by bad actors to seem credible in order to trick you into giving them your email, credit card number, and other private info. Currently, phishing websites are one of the most common scams you’ll come across online, making them all the more dangerous. 

Though less popular today than in years past, malware sites also pose a real threat to your digital security. Malware sites work by automatically downloading compromised software onto your computer with a link click or page visit. Malware sites are quick to corrupt the machines of unsuspecting users – and any other machines within their network. 

Finally, untrustworthy sites can also refer to any websites that practice poor cybersecurity hygiene. In addition to direct-to-consumer threats, any website that doesn’t take its own protection seriously inadvertently puts all its web visitors at risk. 

To put it as lightly as we can, while some are more dangerous than others, any website that you visit has the potential to threaten your security. Constant vigilance is key.

Recognizing Malicious Websites

So, if untrustworthy sites are a dime a dozen, how are we to spot them? While you may think that you’d be able to recognize a fraudulent website from a mile away, unfortunately, you’d be wrong.  

Unlike the risky pop-up-laden internet of yore, today’s malicious websites can often exhibit the same sleek design as any other. So, if not by visual cues, how else are we meant to suss them out? 

A few ways to test the validity of any site include:  

  • Check the validity of your site’s URL by hovering over it. A secure site should have ‘HTTPS://’, ‘SHTTP://’, or a padlock icon displayed in the corner of the search bar when typed out. This means the site is encrypted and secured with an SSL. While sites without an SSL shouldn’t automatically be considered fraudulent, it is a red flag.  
  • Evaluate the content. While you may not be able to spot an untrustworthy site at first glance, a little digging might turn up some evidence. Designing and maintaining a good website is expensive, many scam sites will cut corners in writing and imagery to save money. A site full of errors is not a good sign.  
  • Read online reviews. Checking out a new eCommerce site? Scour the internet for reviews before inputting your information! Others may be able to label it as malicious before you buy.  
  • Take stock of payment methods. Any reputable site should take credit and debit cards as payment. Most will also accept PayPal, Klarna, or Afterpay. If the website you’re using only accepts very specific payment forms, you’re likely dealing with an untrustworthy site.  

Prevention, Prevention, Prevention

Of course, recognition isn’t the only thing you can do to ward off untrustworthy sites. In addition to knowing the signs, there are other prevention methods you should practice in order to stay away from scams.  

Among them: 

A good cybersecurity program is a robust one. While you may not ever be able to fully eliminate the risk of untrustworthy sites, these tactics are a good way to start.  

So, You Clicked That Link Anyway. Now What?

With so many risky links on the web, we’re all bound to click on a bad one or two eventually.  

Here’s what to do when it happens: 

  • Clear Your Cache 
  • Run a Security Check 
  • Backup Your Data 
  • Update Your Passwords 
  • Report the Threat 

While these steps may not stop a breach from occurring, they could stop it from getting worse and aid in your recovery process down the line.  

You Can Trust Us

It started out with a click how did it end up like this? 

It’s not just personal protection you have to worry about. Businesses also have to fear the implications of visiting untrustworthy sites.

Fortunately, you’re not alone. EMPIST’s team of experts can help you craft a custom cybersecurity protocol that takes a proactive approach to protecting data. Services like EDR, Security Awareness Training, and Spam Filtering can all help curb the threat of phishing websites or malware when applied correctly.

To learn more about EMPIST cybersecurity services, visit us online today!


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