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Detecting Malicious Website Is Number One Way to Prevent Yourself From Being Victim to Online Attacks

With advancements in security technology, cybercriminals are finding it difficult to release their malicious programs on a larger scale. To cope up with this, they are inventing sophisticated ways to attack the systems or networks. One such method is using malicious websites.

Malicious websites are one of the most common gateways for malware programs to infiltrate any system. With more and more people getting online, the number of malicious sites is always increasing. They can infect your system in many ways and create havoc. It is therefore important to recognize such sites and save your device from malware attacks.

In this post, we will discuss several ways to identify a malicious site and some measures to protect your system from such websites.

What Is a Malicious Site?

A malicious website is one that contains pieces of malicious codes or malware programs. It might also be used for performing phishing attacks and scamming people. Malicious websites can also attempt to download a malicious program or install a malicious extension just by clicking on their URLs.

Mostly malicious websites are designed to look legitimate so that users can easily trust them and share sensitive information. Even the URLs of maligned sites resemble the popular legitimate sites. For example, yahooo.com might be a fake site resembling yahoo.com. Similarly, g00gle.co.uk is a fraudulent site matching Google’s site.

One of the latest forms of malicious sites that are gradually becoming popular is the Cryptojacking website. Such websites are filled with codes that initiate Cryptojacking in visitor’s devices. Cryptojacking is the process of using the computing power of someone else’s device for conducting crypto-mining.

How Cybercriminals Use Malicious Sites to Spread Malware?

Since computer users are becoming wiser in detecting the common ways of spreading the virus and other malware, cybercriminals are adapting to new methods to fulfill their malicious intent. Internet attackers most commonly use malicious sites to trick people into downloading fake applications and games or providing sensitive information.

For example, using a fake website, a false warning might be generated telling the users that their system is filled with malware, and to remove it, they have to download a malware remover program. Many users might get freaked out, and to protect their device, they will willingly download and install that fake antimalware on their device.

Similarly, scammers use malign sites for trapping users into providing private information. For example, a fake bank site would be created resembling an authentic website, which would tell users that their account has been blocked for security purposes and ask them to enter their details to recover the blocked account. Social media login credentials and other sensitive data are also illegally fetched by following the same pattern.

Since fake websites are very carefully designed to look authentic, it becomes necessary to identify such sites and avoid malware attacks and scams.

How to Identify Malicious Websites?

Let’s discuss few methods that would help in recognizing the malicious sites and stay away from them.

Check for HTTPS in the URL

The most common way to catch a malign website is by checking whether it contains HTTPS in its URL or just HTTP. The ‘S’ in the HTTPS indicates that it is secured with an SSL/TLS certificate. And if it contains an SSL certificate, then which type of SSL certificate is installed.

An SSL certificate ensures that the information you share on the site is encrypted before sending it to servers. For instance, if you are redirected to a site that does not contain an SSL certificate. In that case, it’s recommended that you avoid sharing any details about yourself and avoid visiting that site or else move forward to other mentioned steps to know whether the site is safe or not. Nonetheless, you can use the SSL checker tool to verify the SSL certificate of a place.

Look for the Presentation

Scammers would try their best to make an authentic-looking site that resembles the original one. However, by carefully observing, you can still find few faults in the sites, such as grammatical errors. A hacker or scammer would not spend much on designing the site, so the presentation might look dull, indicating that the website is not authentic. If you find that the site that is warning you of a malware attack on your system or the page that is asking you to enter your banking details is full of presentation errors, it is time to leave that site without performing any action on it.

Content

Third, and one of the essential things to look for is the content on the site. A legit site would have good content on the site, both paid & free, and have multiple pages. A website that provides only Free Downloads, Survey Forms to fill, and only a single page (homepage) is probably a fake one. Most of the freeware providing sites are using free software programs to spread malware. They inject the malicious codes into the authentic paid programs and make them available to download on the site for free.

Site Structure

To catch a malicious or fake site, you can go through its structure. Site structure defines how you can navigate through the sites from the homepage to other pages. If a site is redirecting you to the same page from multiple sources, it can be said as poorly structured.

Many malicious sites redirect the users to a downloads page where all the malicious content is available for download. The whole site is structured to navigate the user to that particular download webpage.

Download Prompt

Some malicious sites would instantly prompt you to download the software just after clicking its URL. No legit site would do that.

Create an Urgency

Most infected websites would create a sense of urgency among users to instantly take action without realizing the consequences. This sense of urgency is created by sending fake virus alerts or something similar. In anticipation of solving the problem quickly, users would follow the maligned instructions of the website. You can easily spot such sites and protect yourself from them.

How to Protect Your System From Such Sites?

Malicious sites can be devastating if visited. To avoid such sites, follow these protective measures.

  • Never click on a link that you received from an unknown email. A cyber-attacker could have sent that link to trigger a malware download.
  • Avoid visiting and sharing information on a site that does not contain an SSL certificate or at least verify whether the site is safe or not.
  • If a site provides you ‘TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE’ offers, then thoroughly verify it before performing any action on the site.
  • Carefully read the URL of the site before visiting it. For example, amaz0n.com is not the same as amazon.com. Look for such minor changes in the URLs.
  • Before clicking on any hyperlink, right-click on it and check its properties. If it redirects you to a different page than what it claims, do NOT click on it.
  • Keep installed a robust web filter and a security solution to block malicious links or sites on your system automatically. A security solution would also ensure that no malware program gets installed on your system even after download. Always keep your firewall turned ON to monitor the network.

Bottom Line

Cybercriminals would try every possible way to trap the users from fulfilling their ill-disposed tasks. So, it is essential to make yourself aware of identifying and protecting yourself from malicious sites and other tricks that they use. The good thing is you don’t require any expensive application or tool for that purpose. By following the tips and precautions mentioned here, we hope you can spot the fake websites and stay away from them.

About the Author :

About Peter Baltazar

peter-baltazarPeter Baltazar, a cybersecurity expert, is currently working as a technical writer at MalwareFox.com. MalwareFox provides the antimalware solution to tackle the different types of cyber threats.
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