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Staying safe online should be a high priority for anyone who is an internet user, especially if you are using to web to access or share private information, such as your birthdate, social security number and bank information. When you’re doing research for work, school or just trying to find a new site to browse, it’s hard to know what is safe and unsafe. The number one secret: look before you click.

Here are 5 easy ways to protect yourself from dangerous websites:

Hover First, Then Click
Questionable websites can make themselves appear legitimate on a Google search page. Try to only click on links on the first page or two of Google as those are more likely to be trustworthy. However, it is still important to take a second look before you click through. In Chrome browsers, you can hover over a link to see the web address before clicking through. Look in the bottom left corner of your screen. If your browser doesn’t offer this feature you can right click and copy and paste the link into an offline document to investigate before clicking through. If you recognize the site as legitimate, proceed with the previously scheduled program. If something seems fishy, do a bit more digging before clicking.

Use a Link Scanner
If your initial investigation has led you to believe you’re working with a potentially dangerous website, you can use a link scanner to confirm your suspicions. Right click on the link and select copy. You can use a site such as URLVoid or Sucuri’s Site Check to check if the site has been reported or contains malware, viruses or spyware.

Investigate Shortened LInks
Shortened links are most prevalent on social media platforms, but can be found on search engines as well. Short links are the perfect way for a dangerous website to hide itself and get your click. So before you click, stop and investigate. Sucuri’s Site Check is one of the few link scanners able to process shortened links as many will simply tell you it’s from the link shortener site, such as Bitly. Sucuri will expand the link to accurately tell you if it’s safe or not.

Use a Filter
Internet filter’s aren’t just for parents to protect their kids from adult material, they can be used to protect you from spyware and phishing. There are many filters you can buy or download to prohibit your access to questionable sites. The filter will block access to sites proven to be unsafe. This will save you time you may otherwise spend investigating links. Using a filter will also help reduce your stress of accidentally clicking on an unsafe site and allow you to browse in peace. If you aren’t sure where to start simply turning on Safe Search through Chrome is a good step in the right direction.

Search, Don’t Type
One way unsafe sites can catch you is by using URLs almost the same as common sites. If you’re prone to typos or are unsure if the site you’re looking for is .com or .org it’s better to search for the company than type the website. is safe but may not be. Using a search engine to find the accurate URL for the website you are wanting to visit can save you the hassle of a stolen identity.

When you’re using a search engine it can be hard to know what is safe and what is unsafe, but these tricks will help keep you protected. If you need help installing anti-virus programs or internet filters or if you believe your information or computer is already compromised, contact us today!