The Anatomy of a URL
There are several tell-tale signs of scam websites that you should keep an eye out for. Be a URL CSI.
You can tell a lot about the website you’re entering based on the URL you’re about to click on. Phishing websites and other scams are all the rage right now as hackers are finding new, creative ways to steal your personal data or access your banking information. One key way to protect yourself from these attacks is with an antivirus app such as dfndr security, which does virus scans, has anti-hacking technology, and helps you avoid security breaches on your phone.
There are several other ways to tell whether or not a link is the real deal, or could lead you to a fraudulent page.
Take Out Your Magnifying Glass
When a link is sent to you via email, direct message or any other way, take a close look at what the link looks like before clicking it.
A good way to check whether or not you’re getting scammed by a fraudulent email is to look at the exact spelling of the email account, as well as the URL, and compare it to the real deal.
For example, PayPal sends messages via emails that end with @paypal.com, but a fraudster might use an account that ends with @paypalpayments.com to trick you, so watch out for these discrepancies.
It may seem a bit loony to examine email or link addresses so closely, but taking those extra few seconds can save you from the nightmare of being hacked and victimized.
Become a Cybersecurity CSI
Another way to ensure you’re entering a trusted site is to notice if the domain is secure or not. Sounds really CSI, but it’s not as hard as you think.
First, look for the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which shows up on a website when it’s secure. A SSL website begins with “https” rather than “http”.
To further enforce security, also look for the green padlock at the beginning of the link and the word “Secure”, or the name of the company before the link. The green address bar only shows up when a site is using a type of SSL certificate called an Extended Validation (EV) Certificate, which helps confirm that the site is operated by a legally incorporated company.
URL Shorteners Could Be Your Enemy
When media outlets share an article on social media sites, they’ll typically use a URL shortener like Bitly or TinyURL. Sometimes, URL shorteners are used in emails as well. These tools help abbreviate long web addresses but make it hard to tell if a website is legitimate since the appearance of a URL is altered.
One way to get around this issue is to right click on the shortened link and copy the URL to a text editor and examine it. Never load it in your web browser though. When it comes to banking, most major financial institutions will probably not use URL shorteners in official emails, so you’re clear there.
We hope these step-by-step tips help you dissect your electronic correspondence better and avoid being a victim of a phishing or cyber attack.