PCS Digital Awareness Series. Stay Cyber Safe: How safe is your website? Top tips to spot an unsecure website

Posted on May 3, 2018

Padlock next to computer highlighting the importance of cyber security.

Cyber security – it’s a hot topic, and for good reason. With the continual advancement of technology and a growing national preference for online communications, it’s more important than ever that companies and organisations are seen to be fighting the threat of cyber hackers to protect their customers.

With various awareness campaigns scheduled throughout the year, it’s clear that cyber security is an issue worth discussing to protect online users of all ages. As specialists in digital, we feel it’s our duty to advise our customers alongside working with them and share the knowledge we have accumulated throughout the years.


How can I tell if a website is secure?

One of the easiest ways to check that the website you’ve just accessed is secure is with the padlock icon, located to the left of the websites URL web address. It might be something you’ve never noticed before or casually overlooked, but this small icon is a vital first indication to many users of what type of website they’re accessing and can significantly impact a user’s inclination to stay.

HTPPS screenshot showing good example of cyber security

As Google Support explains, a padlock is a sure sign of security on your website, and highlights to the user that any data they send through your website (a contact form, for example) or receive from your website (PDF booklets etc.) is private and unaltered in any way – ultimately, the website is as safe as it could be.

In the next stage of security, an info symbol (a lowercase letter i, encased in a circle) indicates to a user that the website isn’t using a private connection. This means someone could potentially change the information a user sends or receives through the website with malicious intent.

Google screenshot showing cyber security examples

If you click on the symbol, the browser may very well provide you with more information, such as ‘login’ or ‘payment not secure’ – this indicates to the user what information they should avoid entering into the website.

If you happen to come across a website with the info symbol, there might very well be a more secure version of the page available – try changing out the http:// to https:// and see if this leads you to a more secure site.

A website that flags the symbol of an exclamation mark encased in a red triangle is suggested as a no-go. This symbol is designed to warn an online user that the page is not secure or potentially dangerous – avoid entering any personal information on this site, try to avoid it entirely if possible.

As with the info symbol, the browser will provide you will a little more information to inform your decision on if you should venture onto the website. ‘Not secure’ indicates that someone might be able to see the information you send or receive from the website. ‘Dangerous’ indicates that malware might be present on the website, or that it may be a phishing website.

Browsers will flag up a page they suspect is dangerous before you enter to help protect users, Google even features a ‘back to safety’ button to encourage users to divert back to the previous webpage.


What can I do if I realise my website is unsecure?

First and foremost, secure your website by switching to Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) hosting, this ensures an encrypted connection is made between your website and its users, and that any transferred information cannot be modified without flagging the action to the website owner – making it both harder for hackers to access your customers information and highlighting any risks immediately.

You’ll be able to read more about securing your website on our upcoming article: Stay Cyber Safe: The hacker’s arsenal and how to avoid falling victim, the second instalment of our Digital Awareness Series.


PCS can help

Here at PCS, we specialise in creating bespoke websites tailored to the individual needs of each OPCC. Our in-house specialist team of designers and developers code each website by hand, ensuring your website offers the best in quality and cyber security for both your department and visitors browsing your website.

Why not contact us today to discuss your requirements and book a no-obligation website demonstration? Call today on 01926 298999 or alternatively use our online questionnaire system: https://publicsector.agency/service/websites-branding/