As Football Fever Heightens, 5 Top Tips To Stay Safe Online

Malicious Website

On the back of such a successful World Cup, interest in club football is higher than ever. Sports fans across the globe will have gotten a taste for football fever and will be looking to stream all sorts of sites to get information about next month’s Premier League. While this seems harmless, you need to be mindful of the fact that hackers exploit your enthusiasm to explore new sites.

There are hundreds of malicious websites disguised as legitimate ones that can hack into your system and trick you into revealing your account credentials, cause malware to become installed on your system, and even access your online accounts. To prevent you from becoming exposed to hacking and scams, here are five top tips to help you identify potentially malicious websites.

1. Does Anything Look Suspicious?

Don’t get carried away. As soon as you get to a new site give it a quick once-over. The following points will help you identify a suspicious site:

  • Unnecessary pop-ups, add-ons or program download.
  • Random ads that don’t make sense.
  • Erratic misplacement of website content.
  • Sometimes even the semantics and grammar should trigger your suspicion.
  • Don’t fall for scams that say you have won an incredible sum of money when you had nothing to do with the site – most likely you will end up getting caught in a hoax.

2. Confirm That the Website Is Secure

Check if the website is secure – especially if you are sharing any information such as personal details and account credentials. Verify that the SSL certificates are all valid and check that the internet protocol is HTTPS. You can use free online SSL checking utilities to examine if there are security certificates or not, and the certificate authenticity, validity, DNS resolution, and other details.

3. Watch Out For Automatic Downloads

Sometimes, just logging onto a site may trigger a download. It could be as simple as malware disguised as a legitimate .exe. file. When you run it, your system can be compromised. If such a download occurs, immediately cancel the download, or scan it with a well-known anti-virus program. Only when you are sure that a download is secure should you run it.

4. Don’t Follow Nested Links

Watch out for nested links. If every URL redirect from the site is taking you through different domains nested within one another, there’s something fishy about the site’s legitimacy.

5. Run Your Own Diagnostics

Whether you found a URL in an email or on an IM chat, if you are not aware of its reliability, it always best to take precautions and run your own online tests:

  • Do a search online to see if the website name is associated with any scams.
  • Run Google Safe Browsing diagnostics to check the authenticity of the site and whether the site hosted any malicious content in the past. Just type http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=www.yourwebsite.com and check the results.
Vinod Mohan

Vinod Mohan is Product Marketing Specialist Team Manager at SolarWinds.