How To Determine If A Website Is Safe

Scrolling through your Facebook news feed, you see a friend shared a link to an interesting story.  It’s obvious it will take you to a different website if you click on it.

Or maybe you’re a recipient of one of those emails a friend sent to everyone in her address list.  You’re encouraged to click on the link to watch a funny video clip.

Because you’re a faithful reader of this tech column, you know you’ve got to be careful on the Internet.  Viruses and malware lie in wait to infect your computer.

So how can you tell if a website is safe to visit or not – before you browse to it?  How can you be sure your PC won’t become infected?

The bad news

Unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed way to assure a website is completely safe or virus and malware free.

The good news

But there are some fairly reliable tools you can use to help gauge the safety of a website before you visit it.

First, you can use online web-based scanners to examine the web address.

·      Norton SafeWeb – https://safeweb.norton.com/

Security vendor Symantec offers this website to provide you an analysis of a website’s reputation.  Most of its information comes from the general public who submit reviews based on their interactions with the websites.  So you must still use caution because these reviews are not necessarily legitimate.

·      Comodo Site Inspector – http://app.webinspector.com/

Comodo Site Inspector, a free service by the popular cybersecurity vendor, will scan a URL for twelve potentially harmful components that could damage your computer.  The scan can take several minutes to complete.

·      ScanURL – https://scanurl.net/

Similar to Norton SafeWeb, ScanURL.net checks multiple databases such as Google SafeBrowsing, Web of Trust, and PhishTank to see if a site has been reported as a potentially malicious site.

Second, you can implement DNS filtering on your router.

DNS can be considered the phone book of the Internet.  Each website address (like www.calibreforhome.com) points to a specific server address comprised of numbers where the site is hosted, known as an IP address.

OpenDNS offers a free service for home users, allowing you to filter all your Internet traffic through their DNS servers, which are programmed to block known harmful websites.  It can also speed up your web browsing, compared to using your Internet Service Provider’s default DNS servers.

You can check out their packages at https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security.

Finally, you can install a web filtering software program on your computer.

The Managed Web Protection we offer prevents you from visiting websites known contain malware, spyware, adware, and other infections.  It also functions as a parental control tool – keeping your kids and grandkids from visiting inappropriate websites.

Of course, the safest method of all – don’t click!

Christian Hinojosa

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