People use the Internet for many reasons, including finding information, connecting with others, buying products and paying bills. Some of these uses transfer personal information through the websites. Whenever you use a website, you want to know that any information you input is safe, and you want to feel reasonably sure that the site will not infect your computer with a virus or allow hackers access to your computer. It is important to ensure that the websites you visit are safe and secure.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Look at the website address box while on sites that require you to enter sensitive information, such as banking information and social security numbers. A regular website begins with "http." A website that has a security certificate enacted begins with "https," showing you the website is secure and safe. A lock icon also typically appears in the address bar.
Check to see if the website is certified by an Internet trust organisation. The information is generally prominently displayed in the form of a seal on the home page, making the notation easy to find. Also check the order form on a website for this seal. The Internet trust organisations check a website's practices to grant certification but do not guarantee security.
Determine if you know the company well enough to trust its content. A reputable company is likely a safer choice than going with a company you had never heard of that appeared in an Internet search. Do your research before purchasing from an unfamiliar Internet company, such as checking with the Better Business Bureau or searching for the company name plus the word "scam."
Avoid sites that ask you for personal information they should not need, such as a site that offers free services that ask for a credit card number or social security number. Only give out personal or sensitive information to websites that should be asking for this information, such as your bank or an online retailer from which you are making a purchase.
Check for contact information. A legitimate company will freely display a way to contact a live person, such as a physical address or phone number. If this information is not available to you, reconsider using the site. Check it out with the Better Business Bureau before making a purchase. Verify the return policy to ensure you aren't stuck with an item you cannot use.
Tips and warnings
- When searching for basic information, the most trustworthy websites end in .gov and .edu, followed by .org. These are all connected to some type of organisation or institution. Be careful with .com sites, because they can be started by anyone.
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