Fraudsters, bad actors and scammers keep coming up with more and more convincing ways of getting the hold of your personal details. It feels like every year we’re greeted with more and more news stories talking about various leaks, breaches, and individuals losing their details to hackers. We’ll show you what common warning signs you should look out for when browsing.
Usually, there are institutions in place that help prevent these fraudulent websites from getting to the conventional user in the first place, but these fail-safes don’t always work. If Google receives a report about a fraudulent site, it takes specific actions to prevent it from being accessed or passes information onto the authorities. Other lines of defense are registrars. Trusted ones, like Hostinger, have tools in place that flag and monitor websites with questionable domains. If you’re looking to start your own website, you can start looking for domain names with helpful suggestions by using this tool.
Spot the Danger
So what are the red flags that should make you click away from a website as soon as possible? Let’s get into the basics. The first thing you always need to check – URL. That’s the thing you type into the address bar on your browser. So what to look out for there? First of all, the protocol: the string of letters that goes at the front of the address. Most commonly this is “http://” or “https://.” The difference is the “s.” The little letter there represents the difference between hypertext transfer protocol and http secure. If a website has an SSL certificate, it will have the “s” at the end of the protocol, which already protects you from man-in-the-middle attacks.
Recently Chrome and other popular browsers have begun to mark properly SSL secured websites with a green padlock, or green address bar text as a way to indicate safety. At times there might be an https protocol website, but has it crossed out. In this case, if you still wish to access the site, it’s recommended to inspect the security certificate of the site. With a little bit of snooping, it should be made clear, if the website poses any actual threat.
TLD and Domain Name
The second thing you need to look at is the top-level domain and domain name, otherwise known as the label. The label would be Google, while the TLD – .com. A common theme among fraudulent websites is trying to imitate popular websites like these in both content and domain name, in order to trick people into logging in. Once they do, they mainly just enter their account details into an archive of the bad actor. This method is called phishing and is most likely one of the easiest to fall for, yet easiest to prevent. All it takes is taking note of what you’re being redirected to. While you’re at it, you might want to do the same for emails. It pays to make sure that you’re not clicking on links from an email “email@example.com,” trying to convince you, that your account is compromised.
What if you fell for it?
This is a good time to address the course of action you should take if you think that you may have been compromised. If it is just a fraudulent email that you found in a mailbox, a quick report should do the trick. The report should be made to the registrar. You can find it out, by using a public database like “WHOIS,” whereupon entering the domain name, you can find out who the owner and the registrar are. After the registrar is contacted, most often action will be taken swiftly, as it is in the registrar’s own best interest.
What if you actually entered your details? Well, the first thing you want to do is change the passwords on all of your accounts and log out all existing sessions. If it’s a serious account such as a bank or payment method, contact customer support. Once these things have been done, monitor your accounts closely, to see if the immediate danger is over., regardless, contact the service and inform them of the string of events that lead to the breach. That way you might help someone else, that is in your position.
When it comes to domains and fraudulent websites, most often it’s not a matter of sophisticated cracking or the solution being out of your control or pay range. It just requires you to pay a little bit of extra attention when you’re browsing, and practicing appropriate hygiene. Stay safe out there!