It is the age of the internet. A time where almost everything has been digitalized. The internet has indeed made things look easy. Imagine buying an item at the comfort of your home and having the item delivered to you within the shortest time possible. In the past, perhaps you might have been required to physically present yourself at the store and get the item. Thanks to the internet, things have been made much easier.
The internet is majorly a composition of websites. For you to make an online purchase, read a blog, or make an online payment, you are going to visit a particular website. There are several websites on the internet that have facilitated online dealings. According to the statistics provided by the Internet Word Stats, there exist over 1.7billion websites on the internet today. This is a huge number especially in an internet world where there are numerous scammers. The huge websites’ numbers have made it particularly hard to differentiate between legitimate websites and fake websites.
There exist several fake websites that generate significant amounts of revenue to hackers through deceitful activities at the expense of the innocent and unsuspecting internet users. A study report conducted by the Research Gate indicates that fake websites make up almost 20% of the internet.
Many users have fallen victims of fake websites and experienced devastating repercussions. They are mainly driven by ignorance. Lack of knowledge of how to identify legitimate websites from the fake ones has been a key contributor to the many cases of lost user data due to fake websites. This article has explained some of the ways to verify if a website is legitimate. It will help a user know how to differentiate between a legitimate website and a fake website.
- Check the name of the domain
The name of the domain of a website speaks volumes about that particular website. A fake website will be characterized by unusual symbols in its domains and many suspicious attempts to try and mimic the domains of reputable brands. Usually, fake websites will have very tiny and hard to notice differences from the main websites. Try as much as possible to identify the differences that exist in the domain extensions. If you realize any maliciousness in the domain name, then you better leave the website.
- Check if the Website has Installed an SSL Certificate
On the internet, your information is an important asset. Fake websites can jeopardize your vital information by stealing it or by altering the content of the information. Legitimate websites are keener on the security of their clients’ data files. They have a secure connection in place to ensure that the information remains safe and secure.
One thing that legitimate website will do to ensure that that their users’ information forever remain secure is to install an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate will encrypt all the vital information of the user such as credit card and the debit card details as well as other types of information. The information goes through a coded format, the intended user is the only one with the ability to open the information.
How do you know that a website has an SSL certificate? Well, that is simple, all you need to do is check the URL on the address of the website and check if the website has the HTTP or the https. If it has an HTTP tag, then it means the site does not have an SSL certificate. If it does have an HTTPS tag, then it means that the site has an SSL certificate. HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This type of protocol is very vulnerable to attacks. The S in the HTTPS stands for security. HTTPS uses an SSL certificate which establishes a secure connection between the server and the browser.
SSL certificates are usually issued by Certificate Authorities. Apart from just an SSL certificate, you should also establish the Certificate Authority that issued the certificate. Certificate Authorities such as RapidSSL offer utmost encryption and are a perfect website legitimacy indicators.
- Check the Content of the Website
It might not be easy to read through the whole content of the website but perusing through every aspect of the website could help you determine the authenticity of the website. For instance, when you want to verify the authenticity of an online shopping website, you will have to look at its content. An authentic one will have a clear and well-elaborated product description, touching on almost every aspect that you might need to know about the product. It will also have quality images of the products that it deals with. The clarity in the shipping information and the refund policy should also be one of the key factors that you should be looking for. If the online store lacks any of these features, then there is no reason as to why you should trust it. For other types of websites which are not shopping sites, then you will have to look at the trust seals and their partners in order to establish their credibility.
Last but not least, you will have to check the contact information that is attached on the website. If the website does not have the contact information, then simply walk away. Authentic websites will not operate from hiding. Check to see the content of their contact information. It should include all the contact details such as the phone number, social media contacts, physical location, names, representatives, email address among others.
You will also need to check in the content format. If the content is in poor grammar, full of spelling mistakes and punctuation errors, then that is a perfect red flag to turn off the website.
- Check the Website Social Proof
One other perfect way to check if a website is legitimate is to check for social proofs. In the modern digital world, bad comments about a website will travel so fast. So, to know if or not to trust a website, then you will have to visit the feedback section and learn from previous users’ experiences.
Most business organizations usually have plenty of reviews about their website available online. Simply visit the social media website of the organization or read from the comments on the blogs.
But there is one problem with this approach. Reviews can be bought. Take Amazon, for example, a good percentage of their reviews are usually fake. Just know which reviews you can trust and those that you cannot trust.
- Check for the website security indicators
As earlier mentioned, security is of key concern that every website user should be looking at. One of the key security indicators that have been fully explained is the SSL certificate or the HTTPS protocol. This is just one security item that can be used to establish the authenticity of a website. One other thing that you should look at is the padlock icon on the address bar. Clicking on the padlock icon will display all the information that relates to the connection security of the website. The validity of the SSL issuer as well as the identity of the issuer will also be displayed. Sure enough, you want to know whether the Certificate Authority that issued the SSL can be trusted before proceeding to trust the website itself.
- Check The Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report
Google is usually keen to ensure that internet users have the best moment while browsing on the internet. Google actually cares for you as a user. This is why they have an algorithm that identifies fake websites and fraudulent activities. Google usually examines the many URLs on the internet. All the information about all websites is found on the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report. A user who wants to have information about a certain website will have to paste the URL of the website in the search bar. Google will scan the URL to identify whether the website might be compromised.
Google is thus good at identifying fake websites and legitimate websites. You can use the Google Safe Browsing Transparency Report to check for the authenticity of a website.
Hope this article of identifying Is the Website is Legitimate or not will help you. Although the internet has had many benefits, it has also presented a fresh lot of cyber threats. Today, almost anyone is vulnerable. Hackers are using all the means to cause havoc, including using fake websites. Safety on the internet is paramount, and it starts with you knowing how to differentiate between the legitimate websites from the fake ones.