I am often asked by clients “How do I know if a website is safe to visit?”

The reality, unfortunately, is that you don’t.  Even by using the very best anti-virus software and the most up-to-date browser, you can still be susceptible to viruses and other malware.  Without locking a computer down to a point most would consider unusable, there will always be some potential for the bad guys and girls to get in and do terrible things.  However, some simple precautions can be taken.

First, if you don’t have an up-to-date virus scanner you should install one. There are some very reliable free options on the right sidebar of this website that I recommend to home users.  Corporate and business users should consider getting a business license that covers both their workstations and servers.  It is important that the entire network is protected.

Second, install anti-malware software. Spybot Search and Destroy is a favorite of mine.  There are also many other free and paid offerings available that also work.  The advantage Spybot offers over some competition is the “immunization” feature.  When you immunize your computer with Spybot, known bad websites are immediately blocked so you can’t visit them by accident.

Keeping your operating system, anti-virus, and anti-malware software up to date is an essential part of staying safe on the internet.

Next is a quick trick you can use if you have concerns about a specific website.  Google’s web crawler visits millions of web-pages every day. When it does so, Google also checks for things that might hurt your computer.  Google offers free access to reports that are generated based on this data.  To check a particular website, simply enter the address in the form below.

Check a website for malware:

While using the form above will not guarantee that the website is safe, it will certainly limit the chances of you visiting a problematic website.  Remember, just because a website is very well known does not mean it is immune from problems.  Viruses have infected websites from The New York Times to the Drudge Report and everything in between.  An ounce of caution can prevent a ton of problems when it comes to surfing the web.

To learn more about how you and your business can stay safe on the web, contact me today!