Surfing on the Internet is not a walk in the park. We are never safe from a fraudulent site that takes our data, a scam that empties our bank account or a site displaying adult content. This can happen when we want to make online purchases, or when we want to download content, especially illegal content. This is why it is recommended that if a child uses a smartphone, it should have a parental control application . Sometimes all it takes is a pop-up to get our attention. For geeks, the response is instinctive. When we spend a good part of our days on the internet for several years, we can almost say that we feel the reliability of a site. And still, some of us get trapped. So rather than speculating on instinct, let’s see together how to quickly know if a site is reliable or not. The meaning of the word reliable can be declined and bring us to other issues such as sources, legitimacy of the author, etc.. Let’s be clear that we are focusing here on the security of the site.
It all starts with the state of mind. When you are surfing the web, constantly ask yourself if you are on a good wave, or if you might run into a typhoon. Of course, you don’t have to be suspicious every time you surf the internet. Social networks, big e-commerce platforms (Amazon, Fnac, etc.), Wikipedia, and many other famous sites are calm waters, as long as you dodge the advertising windows. In fact, you will be confronted with fraudulent sites especially when you try to buy or download something. Fortunately, there are safe and effective ways to determine the reliability of a site.
The first piece of information you have access to that is directly visible in your browser is the use of a secure hypertext transfer protocol. This is known as HTTP , an acronym found in the prefix of most URLs (web site addresses). The Hypertext Transfer Protocol designates the communication protocol between a server and a client, thus between a web site and you. In simple terms, it is the language used on the web to exchange information between your browser and the server where the site you are visiting is hosted. A site with a secure information exchange has an HTTPS protocol, which you can see directly on its URL.
More visibly, a site whose protocol is encoded in HTTPS will have a small green padlock next to its URL, in the browser address bar. If the website or online bank you are visiting does not have this padlock, your communications may not be encrypted and may be at risk of theft by a third party. If you see this padlock, the site you are visiting uses a trusted SSL digital certificate.
However, this is not an absolute guarantee of security. Some phishing sites (hameconing, aiming to deceive the user via an e-mail) are equipped with an HTTPS protocol to make you believe that it is secure. However, these sites cannot directly extract information from you, and it is possible to identify them with the points listed below. Just remember that if a site where you are going to share confidential information does not have a green lock, leave it .
Analyze the content of the site
You can see directly the legitimacy of a website. Observe the following points:
- The legal notices. If you are on a serious commercial site, this one makes appear the legal mentions. You will generally find them in the frame at the bottom of the home page. They contain the name, the coordinates and the number of Siret of the owner of the site. The absence of legal mentions is eliminatory. If there is none, close the tab.
- Coordonnees de contact. This goes hand in hand with the legal notice. If the site doesn’t have a contact form with an email address and a phone number, beware.
- Terms and conditions of sale. A merchant site must include its general conditions of sale. They are constituted of several documents or articles relating to the conditions of payments and the legal provisions of the commercial site. The absence of general conditions of sale is eliminatory: close the tab.
Similarly, there are some things that clearly tell you that the site is questionable. If you see :
- Pop-ups. If you arrive on a site and several pop-ups appear without you taking any action, this is not a good sign. You can still continue browsing, taking care to close all these pop-ups.
- Redirection. If, while clicking on the site from your browser, you are redirected on another site totally different, with a doubtful appearance, two possibilities appear. Either the original site was fake, or it is infected with malware. Either way, it’s a bad sign.