Everyone is online at some point in the day. Some people are online a lot because of work and study. Others may be online for leisurely purposes, communications, shopping, banking, etc. But how safe is it?

We thought it would be a good idea to give you some tips of how to stay safe online. Here’s what Tony McGovern has to say about web addresses.

In todays society we are constantly using the internet for the smallest things:

  • checking the weather (because why look outside to find out)
  • shopping delivered directly to your door (no walking to the shop for me)
  • the local news (getting told the same story over and over at the bar) or even just to pass the time

We use the internet all the time. Why do some people still get scammed when ordering online or even just trying to look at a webpage? Because scammers use the fine details and today we are going to show you those details.

The web

Here, I will outline a few things to be aware of when using the internet and before clicking links you have received.

The address bar

Always check the web address bar and look for a padlock icon (left of address). This will show more details like security, cookies used and other details. Its worth checking the start of the web address too as you really want to see “https”, this means the website has a secure connection. The standard “http” means the website is not secure. The S is for Secure, which is important!

Below is a Google search for a recipe. This has “http” at the start of the web address on preview. It’s best to avoid these links. You can see the address on a Google search before you click the website. Always look for this.

Google Search - http only at start of address
Google Search – http only at start of address

Whereas, this Google search (below) for the weather has “https”, we know this website has a secure connection and we trust it. This is safer to click.

Google Search - https in the web address
Google Search – https in the web address

When we enter the weather website from the above search, the address bar shows a padlock to the left of the web address (as seen below). This denotes a secure connection to the website.

Address bar with padlock icon
Address bar with padlock icon
Read the address

Be sure to properly read the web address! At a glance it might look right or it might not. If searching for Amazon, you want to see https://www.amazon.co.uk (this link is not clickable).

You do not want irregularities in your web address such as wwww.Amazon.co.uk or www.AMaz0n.co.uk. You might notice the extra w in the first example and the irregular capital letters and numbers making up the name of the second bogus address. These differences might not be noticed immediately and if clicked will take you to a different site than the one you intended viewing. Whereas its really a hoax designed to cause havoc or scam. Beware.

Receiving links

If you receive a website link via email; before clicking it, hover over the link with your mouse if using a PC/MAC (or touch and hold the link on mobile devices for a pop up of the information). Its actual web address will appear. The text on sent link might look legit but hide a dodgy website link. Dodgy websites can lead to virus downloads or scammers websites.

You might well trust your friend and what they send through. Don’t think because your friend sent you links via e-mails, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp or Snapchat, that the links are safe. Accounts can be hacked and friends won’t know. Hackers can send messages to everyone in a contacts list, hoping someone will click their links. If it seems suspicious, tell your friend. They can change their password and notify other people whom may have received the message also.

Bookmark it

After checking website links are legit and if you regularly use the site, bookmark it! Bookmarking allows you to save trusted websites for viewing and if you sign into Google Chrome on all devices, this syncs bookmarks over different devices.

In a nutshell…
  • Always check the web address bar. Look for a padlock symbol, https and always check the web address for irregularities, such as AMaz0n instead of Amazon.
  • When someone sends you a link it may say Amazon (or other big brand website), before clicking, hover over the link and read the real web address you received. The link may be bogus. 
  • When friends sends links, its still worth checking the links as their accounts can be hacked and used to send malicious communications or links with viruses .  
  • Bookmark regularly used trusted websites. When searching for websites or using links, we risk loading dodgy websites which look professional and legitimate but are not. When you are on a trusted website, bookmark it so you can simply click the bookmark and load the proper website.  

Realistically, trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel or look right, it’s probably not. Don’t click it. It’s better to avoid a link than accidentally download a virus.

Evidently we don’t want to overwhelm you and scare you from using the internet. Yes it’s scary but it’s also incredibly useful for many things. Follow these steps to spot and avoid bogus web addresses and stay safe on your searches.


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