How to know if a website is authentic or not - six security tips


Are you concerned about the reliability of information available on different websites? How to know the authenticity of the websites from which the information is obtained? This article is a useful guide and provides top 6 tips to know the authenticity of a website.

Overview of information we look for

Nowadays we are living with lots of information; actually, we are surrounded by a mesh of information. Even if you are not willing to receive information, but unknowingly keep the update/notification options of a few apps turned on, time to time you will receive the beep on your smart mobile devices to indicate that something new has arrived. While the news channels keep on breaking some news or the other there are fake messages also circulated through different social media platforms. Apart from these, we also search for information on different search engines to know various things. While this information is not necessarily any news that we obtain from various websites, we have to know whether the information we gather is authentic or not.

Suppose you need the technical specification of some gadgets which is somewhat old, therefore you have to search for a while to receive the correct information. There are various websites offering this information, but you need the correct one. A few of the websites may not be providing the correct information and therefore there are high chances of encountering problems if you follow the wrong information. Whatever may be the information you are looking for, it has to be an authentic one.

We all purchase items online and at times make payments to the vendors through online payment gateways. If the website from where you are purchasing the items is not genuine and you make payments to them online, your money is simply wasted and you are cheated. There are chances of fraudulent activities too if you share sensitive data related to financial transactions to these sites. There are a number of websites created on a regular basis and it's impossible to make a full list of the websites providing wrong information.

Tips to verify the authenticity

There are certain tips you have to follow to judge whether the website is authentic or fake. A few basic tips that you can easily follow is given here and for that, no technical knowledge is required. While utmost precaution has to be taken during any online financial transaction, you must be fully aware of phishing emails and eavesdropping. Always avoid sending sensitive information or making financial transactions over public Wi-Fi networks.

Tip #1: Spelling And Grammar

While searching for information in any search engine, we get a list of items pertaining to the topic of our search with separate clickable links of various websites. You can get a brief idea about the authenticity of the website through the spelling and grammar of the contents posted there. Websites spreading fake contents do not care much about the spelling and grammatical errors and you can encounter a lot of mistakes in fake websites. If you encounter such errors immediately look into the other links on the same topic provided in the search engine. By verifying the contents with various other websites you get some idea about the authenticity of the information.

Tip #2: The URL

It's very natural to be engrossed by the attractive contents on any website and people forget to closely look into the URL. But this URL can tell many things about the website and is one of the most important things to check. URL or Uniform Resource Locator is the complete path of a website where we are looking for information on the internet. Whatever information we look for on the internet is stored in some servers located all around the world. URL shows the complete address and the path where the particular piece of information is stored.

The URL of a website is available on the address bar of your web browser, i.e. where the address of the website is given. By checking the complete URL and the path it is leading to, you can get the idea about the authenticity of the website. Each URL begins with http/https and can end with a number of words or characters depending on our search. For example, from the URL https://www.indiastudychannel.com we get to know a few things. Here https is the protocol used, which is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol-secured, indiastudychannel.com is the domain name. If you copy and paste this URL on your web browser, the home page of the IndiaStudyChannel will be shown. Now check this complete URL https://www.indiastudychannel.com/resources/101520-Good-Article-Writing-Tips.aspx on indiastudychannel.com and you will understand many things associated with the URL. After the domain name indiastudychannel.com there are many words, characters and numbers in the URL which indicates the complete path where the article is located. Similarly, if you click on any advertisement published on a website it will take you to a new webpage of the advertiser that can be found from the URL.

Example of unauthentic content
You got a great piece of news from The Times Of India online portal. You thought it great, but there is a doubt in your mind about the authenticity of the information. The official website of The Times Of India is https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com. But after closely looking into the URL of that doubtful information, you found it something like https://times-india.times.com resembling almost the same page layout. Clearly, it shows it is different from the original URL of The Times Of India. This URL contains a domain name times.com with a sub-domain times-india and hence the authenticity of the news item is in question. Fake websites can be deceptive because they copy the layouts and logos exactly like the original one, but you can find it out by closely observing the URL. You must look into the domain name and the sub-domains to know whether it is the same website you are looking for.

Tip #3: The Protocol- HTTP or HTTPS

Have you noticed that a few web addresses begin with http and many others begin with https? This http is a protocol known as Hyper Text Transfer Protocol used by the World Wide Web to define how information is transferred between the web server and the web browser. With this protocol, an additional security layer is added known as Transport Layer Security (TLS) which uses cryptography to employ data security. Combining these two, it becomes https indicating that the website is more secure. Therefore a website whose address begins with https is more secure than the one beginning with http. But you have to look for certain things which come along with this https to be absolutely sure of its security. A padlock symbol before the https or at the end of the address bar (depending on the browser) indicates the website is secure. The word 'Secure' can also be mentioned before the padlock sign to indicate its authenticity. Look into the picture below to have a better idea.
Picture edited
A click on the padlock sign will enable you to look into the security information as well as the security certificate of the website, though knowledge on network security is required to understand the details provided in the certificate.

Tip #4: Signage Indicating Caution

At the beginning of the URL, an exclamatory sign inside a red triangle indicates the site is dangerous. Beware of browsing those websites. Another sign is the I in smaller case within a circle which indicates that the site may not be secure and the user must look for more information before carrying out any activities on the website. These symbols are provided at various locations, mostly at the beginning, in the address bar (depending on the browser) of the web browser when a website is opened and anyone can view them. Look into the signages below to get an idea about the various indicators.

Indication

Tip #5: The Contact Page

Every website should have the details of its office and contact numbers which is available under the Contact Us tab. Whether you are shopping online or reading news, an organization is there behind it providing you with all the necessary information and in case you need more clarification you have to call them or send them an e-mail. Websites delivering fake contents will not provide these details and if they provide their contact numbers mostly the calls will not be answered or you will find the number inactive. If you land in a page of an advertiser selling various products you should check their shop/office address and must call in the numbers provided there.

Tip #6: The Advertisements

Along with the contents, nowadays we see a lot of advertisements covering different portions of a website. This form of promotion is everywhere and at times these advertisements may interrupt our activities on a website- like covering the contents to force us a click on it or pop-ups appearing all the time on a corner inviting our attention. If you find most of these advertisements having explicit contents then beware of the contents of the website as it will be mostly unauthentic. If you click on those advertisements you may end up compromising with the security of sensitive information stored in your devices.

Conclusion

While it's important to follow the tips provided here to know the authenticity of a website, it's equally important to install antivirus software in your computer/smart mobile devices if you intend to carry out online transactions. It's impossible to detect malware or various computer viruses just by looking at the website and antivirus come to your help in this regard. It's important to know how authentic the content you are viewing and also to let others know if the contents are not authentic. Utmost precaution must be employed while carrying out financial transactions online and the responsibility of not spreading fake messages and unauthentic contents lies with you only.


Article by Sankalan Bhattacharya
Sankalan "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

Follow Sankalan Bhattacharya or read 23 articles authored by Sankalan Bhattacharya

Comments

No responses found. Be the first to comment...


  • Do not include your name, "with regards" etc in the comment. Write detailed comment, relevant to the topic.
  • No HTML formatting and links to other web sites are allowed.
  • This is a strictly moderated site. Absolutely no spam allowed.
  • Name:
    Email: