Look Before You Leap – How to Check to See If a Web Site is Safe
Because Google rules the Web it always gets its way. And now the rule is that sites that are not secure display a warning in the browser’s address bar – and not just Google’s browser either. And, that’s too bad.
Many good and decent sites are not running on secure servers because they don’t have to and they get kind of a black eye from the web’s omnipotent webalopolis. And if a site does not collect any personal information they don’t need to run on secure servers, I tells ya – because no personal information is being sent between the visitor and the web site. And switching to secure servers can be expensive and time-consuming.
Nope! I am gonna tell ya that secure does not mean safe. Not even close. Many malware sites, tech support scam sites, awful and nasty adult sites, etc. run on secure servers. Do you think that makes them safe? Nope!
For example, three of the Web’s worst places to download software all run on secure servers:
Those three sites and infamous for bundling unwanted programs (and worse) with the freeware they serve up for download. And I don’t think anyone who knows these sites would say these sites are safe just because they’re all on secure servers. And I ramble on just to make a point – the point is that unless you are familiar with a site, you really can’t tell if it’s safe or not – and you sure can’t assume “https://” or “secure” means it is safe. One thing you will find out for certain: Secure does equal safe.
So, all that being said, I think you’d agree that it is hard to tell just by looking at a site whether it’s safe or not. And nobody wants to be constrained to visiting only sites with which they are familiar. Part of the fun having a computer is browsing the Web and finding new and useful sites and programs. And therein lies the danger. Not every site is what it appears to be. So how do you really know if you can trust a site or not?
Before we share with you three sites you can use to help you determine if a Website is safe, we include this caveat: No software, no website, no web app, and no person is 100% right (not even EB!) 100% of the time. We suggest you use these tools with a modicum of common sense too. You are the last line of defense. And in the final analysis, you must make your decision based on your judgment using the tools you have at hand. And we’re going to give you three more tools (Websites) you can use to help you determine if a web site is safe or not.
Google’s Safe Browsing
Google’s Safe Browsing technology examines billions of URLs per day looking for unsafe websites. Every day, we discover thousands of new unsafe sites, many of which are legitimate websites that have been compromised. When we detect unsafe sites, we show warnings on Google Search and in web browsers. You can search to see whether a website is currently dangerous to visit.
Above: Google’s Safe Browsing finds Cloudeight safe! Yay!
Trend Micro Site Safety Center
Scores are assigned based on factors such as a website’s age, historical locations, changes, and indications of suspicious activities discovered through malware behavior analysis. We’ve advanced how we apply web reputation to keep pace with new types of criminal attacks that can come and go very quickly, or try to stay hidden.
Above: Trend Micro’s Site Safety Center tells ya Cloudeight is safe! Double Yay!
Virus Total’s URL checker
Analyze suspicious files and URLs to detect types of malware, automatically share them with the security community
We’ve recommended Virus Total before to check the files you’ve downloaded for viruses and other malware. But did you know that Virus Total also has a little known feature where you can check URLs to see if they’re safe or not? Check any URL with Virus Total here.
Above: Virus Total and 67 other places find Cloudeight safe. Triple Yay!
Look before you leap!
It’s always good to know what you’re getting into before you get into it. Sometimes spending a few extra minutes checking things out can save you hours of trouble later on. Now you have 3 places to go to check out sites before you dive into them… figuratively speaking of course.