Now that we’ve taken some time to explore HTTPS, let’s touch on some other tips for identifying a secure website so you can enjoy a safe and secure e-commerce environment.

Watch for Phishing Attacks

Bad actors will use a variety of means to lure unsuspecting consumers into surrendering their valuable data. Sometimes, they will to mimic other legitimate websites so users will be tricked into giving up their sensitive information.  This is known as a “phishing” attack.  Criminals can also make sure these types of disguised websites are HTTPS encrypted by getting a Domain Validation certificate (the type of digital certificate that doesn’t require a stringent background check into a company). Therefore, be sure that the website you are visiting doesn’t have any grammar or spelling errors or has a URL that looks strange or suspicious (for example, a URL that is “amaz0-n.com,” or “f-acebo0kcom”).

Look for contact information or an “about” page

Legitimate websites provide physical addresses and contact information, such as phone numbers and email addresses.  They also usually have “about” pages that provide additional information about themselves. If you are concerned about a website’s security, check to see if this information is available.

Look for trust marks and security seals

Many websites will have trust marks and security seals, indicating that they have been reviewed or investigated by a trusted third party. Check to see if a website has such a seal or symbol.

Look for reviews

Often times, legitimate businesses will have reviews or some other type of online presence. If you are concerned about a website, use your favorite search engine to determine if the entity has digital presence elsewhere. This will help you determine if the website is legitimate.

Check the who.is tool

The who.is tool helps you look up a website to determine if it has any ownership records: https://who.is/. By plugging in a website into this tool, you can see if there’s a name or physical address associated with a particular web address.

Use the Google safe browsing tool

Google has developed a reporting tool where you can check a website to see if it is safe: https://transparencyreport.google.com/safe-browsing/search. While often times the Google Chrome browser will give you an explicit warning about a dangerous website, you can explore this tool to see if a website you are concerned about has been flagged.

Data security is a complex area that is always changing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build some skills to protect yourself from cyber criminals and scammers. The Better Business Bureau Institute for Marketplace Trust aims to build trust between businesses and consumers, and we hope that we all can work together to promote a safe and secure e-commerce environment.

The articles in this series on website encryption, created to support National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, can be found at BBB.org/BBBSecure. Support for the program was made possible by our Corporate Trust Roundtable partners, Comcast and Facebook.