Here are some ways you can decide whether to trust a website link or page in a web browser and tell when things smell phishy. Taking the time to look for signs of a hack attempt in links and websites is like washing your hands; it helps keep you and your co-workers safe, and every adult should know how to do it. We’ll start with the best ways to tell if a link or website is safe or a hack attempt.
First, look at the link address you are about to visit. In many cases, you can hover your mouse over the link to see the full address it goes to, and if that does not work, try right-clicking on the link and selecting “Copy Hyperlink” or “Copy Link URL” and then you can paste as text somewhere (or right into a web browser) and review it before actually hitting enter to go there.
We will look at the words after last two periods ‘.’ before the end of the address or first single slash ‘/’ starting from the left (called the Top Level Domain). In this site’s case, this blog is on, are “.belltec.com”. A single entity owns each unique set of these, and anything different might be someone else. A hacker could use any of the following to try and trick your eyes:
NONE of these are safe links if the person/organization they claim to be from is Bellwether Technology. For reference, you can always do a web search for the entity in question and confirm the correct Top Level Domain. This is also one of the best ways to tell if email addresses are safe or authentic.
If you are unsure about a link or site, checking it through your IT team is always the way to go. Most IT staff go through extensive additional training on spotting phishing and malware attempts by hackers.
So what happens when you get a warning once you click the link or past the site into your web browser?
Upon visiting some sites, your web browser might tell you that the page is not trustworthy because it provided an invalid Certificate. If your company has not told you to visit a website that fails to present a valid certificate, then you should not load that site beyond the web browser warning. Any site you need to visit which shows the warning and has not already been approved internally should be evaluated by IT before being considered trustworthy. Moreover, if a site you use that never gave such a Certificate warning before suddenly does, you should immediately notify IT so they can check for a security breach.
You may also wind up at sites that do not secure the connection with a certificate at all, or only parts of the page are. You can see warnings of this via the little padlock icon in the browser address bar when visiting the site. Pages like this may be OK to view, but you should not trust links on them or enter any sensitive information like email addresses, usernames, or passwords.
That ends this quick How-To on the best ways to check if links are phishing or maybe contain malware. Please check out our other blogs for more helpful tips to keep you safe online and make your business more profitable and productive through technology.