Check out the 7 steps to tell if a website is secure

Not everything that glitters is gold, and not everything on the internet is reliable. You already know that, right? But do you know all the steps to identify a secure website?

Updated: December 19, 2023
Check out the 7 steps to tell if a website is secure

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It is a fact that websites are no longer used only for entertainment, as it was in the 2000s. Currently, many businesses are conducted over the internet. Therefore, it is important to know the main secure website platforms, such as WordPress.

The problem is that the dynamism of technological changes causes threats to change quickly — and, in some cases, camouflage in the face of reliable design, for example.

In other cases, no matter how careful businesspeople are, customers end up being uncaring and risking themselves in unreliable environments. That doesn’t always happen because of bad intentions; sometimes, it happens because many individuals are interacting with the digital world for the first time.

Despite that, there are many signs that a website is safe. Knowing them is essential to avoid losses. If you want to understand more about how to check if a website is safe, keep reading this article. In it, we will cover:

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    Why does a company need to have a secure website?

    Every time you access a website and view a closed padlock next to the URL, it means that the website is secure. Although some people think that it is only essential for online stores because they require the input of personal data and credit card information, this is not true.

    Since 2018, website security has become a ranking factor in search engines like Google. For this reason, to make your website more likely to appear among the first results, it needs to have a security certificate.

    Besides that, secure websites convey confidence to your audience, making them more likely to do business with you.

    How to know if a website is secure?

    Without further ado, here are the top 7 ways to check if a website is safe.

    1. Check the SSL certificate

    A secure URL always begins with “HTTPS” at the start instead of “HTTP”. The extra “S” in “HTTPS” stands for “secure”, which means that the website is using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate.

    The SSL certificate is used to secure all data that is passed from the browser to the website’s server.

    If you look at the address bar of your browser right now, you will see that there is a small padlock before the address of our blog.

    Clicking on it, a message stating that “the connection to this site is secure” will appear, depending on your browser, of course.

    Okay, but what does that mean? Well, this means that there is a company guaranteeing that the communication between you and the company responsible for the website cannot be intercepted or modified.

    Imagine that you go to a shopping website and inform the company about your personal data. Without SSL certification, this information could be copied — without you or the store noticing any hack.

    Therefore, the first step to check if a website is safe is to verify that it has that certification. That security item is already considered by Google when ranking the sites in its list of search results.

    So, if you’re wondering how you can get your WordPress site to appear on Google, know that having a security certificate is one of the criteria.

    2. Analyze if the site has a modern theme

    You may be wondering what this topic has to do with website security. The themes, as well as practically everything that forms a website, are made with code. Over time, some of the settings written in code become obsolete, which can make the page vulnerable.

    According to an article published by G1 in 2020, more than one million WordPress sites may be vulnerable due to some plugins and themes. That does not mean that the platform is worse than others, but that, as with any system, a website owner must be cautious when choosing themes and plugins.

    You can’t just consider the web design; you need to evaluate the security that the theme offers. Logically, using pirated themes is a bad idea. Even though they are identical to the originals, using them is equivalent to leaving an open door for the invaders — besides being a criminal attitude towards the intellectual rights of the developers.

    So, learn the correct way to add a WordPress template before downloading any theme out there, ok?

    3. Use security tools to evaluate the site

    You probably have an antivirus installed on your computer, right? Most digital security companies develop systems that show the user when a website is secure.

    In some cases, those tools prevent navigation from continuing when there is no security certificate at the address — or when it is already expired.

    Other companies allow the Internet user to evaluate the site and decide whether or not to continue browsing. Those tools are usually installed automatically with the antivirus, like browser plugins. Moreover, there are many VPN services and pentesting functions that may be useful to you.

    Before choosing an antivirus, do some research on the company’s reputation on the internet. There is a very interesting website called Virus Total. By pasting a URL into the search field for that address, it performs an analysis and concludes whether the site presents risks to the visitors or not.

    Another tool similar to the previous one is Google Safe Browsing. Its advantage is that it uses Google’s database, which generates an analysis of billions of pages, increasing the chance of finding malicious sites or attempts to steal information from these addresses.

    4. Check the URL

    Knowing that many users do not pay attention to details, some criminals benefit from this behavior when applying scams. A missing letter, a typo, and, in some cases, serious grammatical errors are clear signs that the site is not secure — that it is likely a scam attempt.

    In some cases, fake addresses replace characters, for example, changing the “o” to a zero. For those in a hurry, the website may be something that doesn’t even draw attention.

    5. Be wary of security seals

    Many companies do certify sites with security seals. However, it is not difficult to create a fake stamp in editing programs and insert it on the pages.

    The ideal action is to check the authenticity of the seal by clicking on it and checking if it redirects you to the website of the company that issued it or if it offers any more information. Fake stamps are images that don’t provide any of those details.

    You should also search for the badge on Google, checking if that certification really exists. This is essential on e-commerce pages.

    6. Find out who owns the site

    Verifying this information is quite simple. Every website must be registered in the name of an individual or legal entity. Companies like Whois Lookup allow you to search, in the Whois field, for the ownership of a website.

    7. Escape spam

    Some items — like banners blinking incessantly, exaggerated promises, or very low product prices are classic indications that a website, email, or advertising is not safe. Although they look like something from the 1990s and 2000s, there are still people who ignore features and trust websites that use these tricks.

    It is a fact that technology companies are investing in security, and it is only up to users to also do their part regarding navigation. A safe website is very important, but so is safe browsing — and the 7 steps in this article can help you behave more carefully on the web.

    Wrap Up

    Now that you know how to identify and protect yourself from an unsafe website, check out our Corporate WordPress Guide to find out how to build safer WordPress webpages!

    But website security is not all it takes to improve its SEO and rank your pages high up in the SERPs. You’ll also need high-quality content.

    Sign up for WriterAccess’ free trial and access a pool of screened, proven freelancers, powerful workflow tools, and world-class training. Scale your content, grow your business, and dominate your online space!


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