Look For The Lock: Ensuring Website Legitimacy


When browsing the Internet, you may have noticed that some sites will display a lock icon next to the URL address (as shown below):

This icon, along with the ‘s’ following ‘http’ in the address line, is your indication that the communication between your device and the website is secure. When logging into your credit card or bank account, most of us are aware that we should confirm that we see the lock and the https address. This is our assurance that our data is traveling over the Internet securely.

It is important to know that the presence of the lock and the https in the address line does NOT mean the website you are visiting is legitimate. It only means that the owner of the website has paid for a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate. In the early days of the Internet, only the legitimate websites invested in SSL. Today, according to one cyber expert, 49% of the malicious sites on the internet use an SSL certificate to fool you into thinking the website you are visiting is secure and genuine.

Don’t be fooled, make sure that you are visiting the actual site that you intended to visit. If you are responding to an email asking you to update your account, DO NOT click on the link conveniently provided in the email. Instead, a good best practice is to navigate to the website by typing in the web address manually or clicking on your favorites if you have it stored there. Finally, before you enter your information, ‘look for the lock’ to confirm that you are on a secure site.

If you are planning to visit a site for the first time and would like to validate the legitimacy of a site, you can point your browser to safeweb.norton.com, type in the site address and read the results of their testing.

These tips and many more are presented in our quarterly security training series.

For more tips on safe surfing or to learn more about NetCenergy’s quarterly security training for your users, please contact us.

Authored by Donald Nokes