A malicious website is a website that intentionally harms your computer or uses your confidential data for malicious intent, either through a malware infection or pure deception. There are two common types of malicious websites – those created from the ground up to prey on unsuspecting users, and those compromised by hackers in order tocheat visitors.
A malicious website can infect your computer with several types of malware.
- Ransomware targets your essential files and locks them until a ransom is paid through an untraceable payment medium
- Adware hits your screen with a barrage of pop-ups, hijacks your web browser, slows down your system, and sends your browsing data to advertisers
- Spyware sneakily steals your confidential information and transmits it to hackers and thieves
- Viruses harm your system’s performance and data
How Do I Recognize a Malicious Website?
Most people visit a malicious website by accidentally typing the wrong URL. For example, if you mistype just one letter in a website’s name, you’ll go to an entirely different page. While there are usually no consequences to this mistake, the wrong website can sometimes make you pay dearly.
1. Pay Attention to the URL
A malicious website relies on user error and malicious links to draw traffic. Be cautious if the URL is misspelt or looks like gibberish.
2. Check for a Lock Sign
Only visit websites with URLs that begin with “https” instead of “http.” Likewise, look for a padlock sign before the URL and click it to check the connection’s security.
Remember, a padlock only means that your connection to the website is encrypted; it doesn’t necessarily mean that your data is secure from the website itself. A malicious website that pulls a sophisticated scam can also use the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol to earn a padlock symbol. So, look for a padlock sign, but still, stay cautious.
3. Trust Your Web Browser
Modern web browsers use a variety of tools to recognize malicious websites. For example, a good web browser will warn you if you try to visit a blacklisted URL or a hacked website.
4. Watch Out for Aggressive Pop-Ups
While legitimate websites use pop-ups sparingly to market products and services to you, malicious websites use them with aggression. Immediately close the website if it opens multiple windows without warning, forces downloads, flashes fake warning signs, or tries to update your Flash Player automatically.
5. It Just Doesn’t Look Right
If your favorite website doesn’t look right, loads slowly, features unusual ads, hosts spam, offers unusually good deals, or presents completely different content than usual, then it’s probably compromised.
How Do I Protect Myself from Malicious Websites?
To protect yourself from malicious websites, install advanced antivirus cybersecurity software that provides real-time protection and remediates emerging malware threats with sophisticated technology.
Always use the latest version of your web browser and take advantage of its robust security tools. Likewise, use your search engine’s security features for enhanced protection. Moreover, always enter a URL yourself instead of using a link and immediately close a website that displays warning signs.
Take the right precautions, trust your instincts, and use the robust security tools at your disposal to stay safe on the world wide web.