The Basics of Protecting Yourself from Malicious Websites

With the rise of malicious websites, online security should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Check out this post to see some tools that can help keep you safe.

Blog_Volusion_Security

As the Heartbleed bug proved last week, the internet isn’t always as safe as we’d like to think it is. With security holes, malicious websites and malware around, even careful users can end up in dangerous online straits.

Last year, the number of malware-serving websites increased by 600 percent. Researchers estimate that about 85% of all websites flagged as malicious are otherwise legitimate sites that have been compromised. The remaining 15% are attack sites used by hackers to intentionally host and distribute malicious software.

For a more visual take on those numbers, here’s a graph showing the number of sites that have been flagged as unsafe by Google over time.

Unsafe Sites on the Rise - Google Transparency Report As you can see, unsafe websites are on the up and up. And it doesn’t look like they’re stopping anytime soon.

 

How can you stay safe?

In the face of the rising tide of spam, there are a couple of tools and features that can help you stay safe on the web.

For starters, Google recently launched its Safe Browsing service, which notifies users when the website they’re about to visit contains:

  • Malicious content, meaning the site may install malware onto users’ computers used to capture and transmit private or sensitive information; or
  • Phishing content: The site may appear to be a legitimate website such a bank or a web-store while trying to trick users into entering personal information such as username, password, SSN, financial information, etc.

In addition to the Safe Browsing service, there are numerous malware scanners that can help you identify whether a website is safe to visit.

Here are some free services you can use when you suspect that a URL may be harmful:

 

How about those short links?

Have you noticed that your Facebook or Twitter friends often share links that look

like this http://bit.ly/12nnBbb

or this http://tinyurl.com/12nnBbb

or this http://goo.gl/12nnBbb

or any other short URL that redirects you to a different website? This technique is called URL shortening, and it’s offered by various providers (such as bitly.com, tinyurl.com, and Google) to help users shrink lengthy URLs, which is especially convenient for social platforms that limit the number of characters per message. Unfortunately, attackers also use his technique to conceal malisons payloads in specially crafted URIs.

If you’re unsure where a specific link may redirect you, scan it with a redirect checker (such as Redirect Detective) and see where the final destination of your link is.

 

By using these tools and tips, you’ll stay safer online. If you have your own favorite online security tools, let us know in the comments below!

 

Happy selling!
-Elena Seufert, Volusion

Leave a Reply