Malicious websites are created by cybercriminals to steal data and plant malware such as ransomware. These websites often masquerade as legitimate ones and use phishing emails to lure visitors.
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Some fake sites can be very difficult to spot. Other malicious websites are more obvious, and they have tell-tale signs. Here are some of the red signs that indicate a website might be malicious:
- Asks a visitor to download software, save a file or run a program when it seems unnecessary.
- Alerts a visitor that their device is infected with malware or that their software is out of date.
- Claims that a visitor has won a prize, while requiring personal information to claim it.
- Contain errors, such as misspellings in the body of the website or in the URL, or graphic design that doesn’t match a legitimate brand’s.
There can also be technical indications that a website is malicious:
1. The URL looks suspicious.
https://google.com is safe. https://google.[something].com is not. This is a subdomain of [something].com — which could be a malicious website.
2. The site does not use https.
Most sites use https, rather than http, which indicates that they are protected by an SSL certificate. However, some sites have not yet made the upgrade to https, and not all https URLs are safe.
Malicious websites can cause serious harm to the safety and security of an organization’s data and systems. Aside from having the right tools and technologies in place, protecting against them requires a combination of education and good browsing hygiene.