When browsing the internet, users typically come across a ‘secure pop-up’ on most internet browsers. However, this does not always mean that the browser is 100% safe and as a result internet users may face an increased risk to various potential threats, such as privacy concerns, cyber stalking and identity theft, to name but a few.
This is according to Celeste Buitendag, Underwriter at SHA Specialist Underwriters, who says that it is very important that people know exactly what to look out for when browsing the internet in order to avoid falling victim to internet scams like hacking or phishing. “Usually when you see that ‘secure’ signal it means that the connection between the browser and the website you are connected to is encrypted, it does not necessarily mean that the domain is safe, trusted or non-malicious.”
All websites need to undergo a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) set-up which is part of a process to obtain a certificate authority, which is called domain validation. Buitendag explains that this SSL is the standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser to ensure all data passed between the two remain private and integral. “Unfortunately there are various malicious or phishing websites on the internet that are labelled as secure, as the owners have obtained SSL certificates in fraudulent ways.”
She says that the best way to ensure that you stay safe and protected on the internet is to check that the location bar of the website has the website’s proper full name. “One needs to be very careful when sharing sensitive information with web browsers. It is highly advisable to ensure that a reputable name appears after typing https://www. Should you not recognise the website name or the website looks somewhat strange or different, that may be a sign of an ‘unsafe’ website.”
While most major internet browsers do great work to shut down malicious websites, criminals will always be part of the internet and internet-users will have to ensure that they know the signs to look out for and the measures to take to spot a potential threat, she says.
Buitendag also provides the below tips for internet users to safeguard themselves against criminal activity;
– Always have anti-virus software installed on all devices as a first line of defence.
– Be aware phishing scams – if an email looks like it is from a legitimate source, such as a bank, but seems suspicious, rather contact the company that the email appears to be from to ascertain whether the email is real.
– Be very careful with passwords and avoid using the same password for multiple platforms.
– Review your bank and credit card statements regularly to spot fraudulent activity.
– Be careful when using free Wi-Fi hotspots as it can make you extremely vulnerable to hackers.
“We live in a very advanced technological era where technology is growing at a rapid pace and it is almost impossible to avoid using online browsers on a daily basis. Therefore people must always empower themselves with the appropriate knowledge to ensure that they keep their personal information safe and not become a victim of cybercrime. By adapting good internet habits people will be able to use the internet responsibly as a tool to meet new people, share experiences and make life more convenient,” concludes Buitendag.
By Celeste Buitendag, Underwriter at SHA Specialist Underwriters