Chapter 3: Unsafe links and malicious content

Despite the fact that this is not immediately linked to social media, because their platforms are considered safe, every user got weird links sent to them and was redirected to unsafe websites or worse. This chapter is devoted to those type of issues and how to protect yourself from them.

Table of content

Select the part you want to go towards or just start straight from the beginning.

Connection is not private

All of us have been to a website via a message and you saw the following messsage on the left by your browser.

General rule of thumb: if the website is not secure and you don’t know anything about the source, just leave!

However, there is more to be done about this. Sometimes the browser does not give you this warning or you choose to click onwards. How can you check the security then?

What can possibly happen when I click on unsafe links?

Unfortunately, a lot. Let’s get right into a list of possible consequences, so we understand the severity of the matter.

Getting hacked on social media

Checking url's of famous websites

The URL’s above are considered safe. That’s why they are marked in green.

General trick to find out if you are an the authentic website of giant services like these, just Google them!

Now these are just the basic points. How can you actually check the safety of the website? We can go a little further here, just in case you are in doubt.

Unsafe link?

A step by step process with detailed on what to check. Better be safe than sorry!

Check it

If you answer the questions with a yes, just don't proceed to the website.

  1. Is the source a random person or anyone you don't know?
  2. Is the website normally protected and that means you do not receive a warning of an unsafe website?

Do you know the website already?

Did you receive a url that should lead to a website that you know is easy to find? Such as Amazon or PayPal?

Do you know the website already?

Just Google the website. Way safer than clicking at a link from a weird email or message from somebody on social media

ssl certificates

2: SSL certifcates

Now we go into a little more depth concerning the safety of websites. Namely: SSL certificates

SSL certificates are meant to give a web user the confirmation that the website they are visiting is safe. The connection with the web browser and server is encrypted. SSL stands for secure socket layer.

You can easily recognize the SSL certificate because it is illustrated by the lock on every page of the website.

Checking the safety of the websites

Here we go into SSL certificates, which signify the lock on pages. Should a hacker actually have a phishing website which is secure, it becomes important to check the details of the SSL certificate.

In general, the more information and transparency, the better! The examples on the right are from the Dutch banks ING and Rabobank. Banks usually have the most detailed ssl certificates, telling you exactly if the website is thrustworthy.

Now there are only three things you will need to check when in doubt whether this website is legimate or not.

View examples of Dutch bank SSL certificates

*You can view the examples by clicking on them

Safe connection?

How to check the hint in the URL

Check it

Check if the connection to the website is HTTPS and not HTTP.

HTTPS means that the link is encrypted. This is because the S in HTTPS means secure.

Does it have a padlock?

The padlock is like this icon but the in the URL bar.

Does it have a padlock?

The padlock can be found in the left side on the bar on Firefox, Chrome and Safari.

Click on the padlock to find out more information about the security on the website.

Check the validity of the SSL

Sometimes the website you are on requests a lot of personal information, then it might be worth to check if this website is thrustworthy.

Check SSL

Click on the padlock and view the SSL certificate. Check if the

  • SSL certificate is not out of date
  • Which company gives the certificate.

Usually Cloudfare, let's encrypt, Symantec, GeoTrust, Sectigo and SSL.com

Summary of the chapter

Phishing and scamming

Time for chapter 4: phishing and scamming

We have covered the basic tricks on how to check if you are on an unsafe website. Now that you know the difference between an authentic website and a fake one, it is time to step into the world of scamming and phishing a bit deeper. There are practical steps that you can take to counter the threat. Chapter 4 will be focussed on explaining the risks of phishing and scamming.

Let’s get started!