If you’re a gossip fiend, you probably find yourself going to every corner of the internet looking for all the latest details on a story. Unfortunately, you’ll also see a lot of misleading headlines and suspicious websites in your travels. Below you’ll find some simple but savvy tips that internet sleuths have been using for years to keep their online activity safe.
Only Visit Secure Websites
With online security, prevention is better than cure. It’s better to exercise discretion and avoid suspicious websites instead of inviting security risks and then fixing them later. There are multiple telltale signs that tell you which websites are legitimate.
First, you’ll want to check a website’s encryption level. Most websites use TLS/SSL encryption which is marked by HTTPS, instead of the older HTTP. HTTPS (or a padlock beside the URL) means that your connection is secure. The largest and most legitimate websites use HTTPS, including trustworthy news outlets. It’s also necessary to trust sites that handle transactions, whether it’s for retail like Amazon or online entertainment like iGaming. This means that HTTPS is a secure connection guarantee for those playing slots at Paddy Power Bingo, where hundreds of bingo games connect to the site’s client base every minute. Every single one of those connections needs to be secure.
HTTPS isn’t just available for large websites. In fact, it’s inexpensive to get, so individual site owners can also get a more secure connection. It also comes with benefits to SEO that help the site, so there’s no reason for an owner to not get HTTPS. Google knows this, which is why a non-HTTPS site will have an exclamation point beside the URL. If you’re looking for gossip on a site that hasn’t got one of these connections, you should be suspicious of the source and the accuracy of its information. Fortunately, Google has verification tips on their own blog, handy for identifying questionable sources and rooting out misinformation. More often than not, sites that peddle attention-grabbing, dubious information have backend issues that can put visitors’ data at risk.
Use Browser Settings To Restrict Pop-Ups
Many people install a browser and get to work. They don’t dive into the settings of their search engine to customize the experience. Alongside a few preference changes, you can also tweak settings to restrict intrusive pop-ups. As a rule, pop-ups are mostly harmless, but it depends on the quality of the website. Since the passing of data protection policies like GDPR, most websites have pop-ups that aren’t for marketing or deceptive purposes.
However, when combined with a suspicious website, pop-ups can trick users into clicking on them and opening tabs to other sites. Those sites can either host scams or have poor backend infrastructure that exposes your data and other online activity.
For Google, find “privacy and security” under your settings. Then navigate to “site settings” and then “pop-ups and redirects” and check the appropriate box. You can also add specific sites to block them from doing this, perfect for sites that are otherwise trustworthy but engage in annoying marketing practices.
Be Careful With Downloads
Lastly, you should be very careful with what you download to your devices. Many viruses and malware programs spread through downloads, where you voluntarily let them into your system without realizing it’s a threat. This is typically because it’s disguised or attached to something that you do want to download.
Once again, you’ll want to consider the source of these downloads. Many operating systems will give an alert message before activating a file when it has no clear creator. This is because it increases the likelihood of it being harmful to your PC. Don’t download and run .exe files without knowing explicitly what they do, as told by the verified supplier of the file. The same applies to .rar and .zip files that need decompressing inside your device.