When you visit a new website, you should always take a moment to scan the site's Uniform Resource Locator, or URL, which is displayed in a bar at the top of your Internet browser. That URL is the address of the website, and online security experts have been warning consumers for years to look out for typos or other irregularities to make sure they really are connecting to a legitimate website and not just a clever imposter.
Most URLs will begin with the familiar "http" before the site's address. News, entertainment and other general interest websites all use this format for their URLs.
But these days, if money is about to change hands or you're asked to share sensitive information such as your Social Security number, it's a good idea to look for a URL with an extra letter, says Andrea Eldridge, CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, a computer and electronics repair service based in Redding, Calif.
"Make sure that anytime that you are putting in sensitive information that the Web address starts with 'https' instead of 'http,'" Eldridge says. "That little 's' stands for secure, so the website has to have additional security precautions on the page keeping you safer and a whole lot less likely to have your information stolen."