Everyone who lives in Paisley or around Renfrewshire knows how important modern technology is to our lives. This has become truer since the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw more Paisley residents than ever relying on the latest tech to live, work and learn. Of course, the major element of modern technology that underpins our way of life now is the internet.

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Websites are the backbone of the internet and help connect users with businesses, platforms and news sources. With cybercrime an ever-present threat, though, it really does pay to ensure any website you use is safe and secure. Entering a site that is not safe could see your computer infected with malware, cause you to fall victim to scams or have precious personal details stolen.


But just how can Paisley residents tell if a website is legitimate? 


Check it out with independent sources online


A great place to start is looking at reputable online review sites. This will help as you can check to see if the website you are thinking of using is listed there as being trustworthy. There are many top-class online review sites, which make it easy to do this check across all industries. SuperLenny is a great example of this concept in action and gives honest reviews of online casino sites for consumers to read. A spokesperson at SuperLenny said that “one of the factors we value highly when reviewing online casinos is how secure they are.” This illustrates just why looking at sites such as this is worthwhile. 


Look closely at the site URL 


While entrepreneurs around Scotland know the key cybersecurity steps for business, ordinary people in their personal lives may not. Another very easy and effective way to verify whether a site is safe to use is to look closely at the actual URL address. If the address of the website begins with ‘https’ and contains a padlock symbol, this means it is encrypted and safe to use. It also lets you know that the site uses high-end SSL technology to protect your data when using the website in question. 


Check their website privacy guidelines 


The importance of looking after your personal data when using websites is nothing new. 2016 saw Renfrewshire locals urged to take care when shopping online and this is still valid. All reputable websites that are secure should have a privacy policy that is clear and easy to find on the site itself. In simple terms, it tells you how your data will be collected, stored and possibly used by the website. A robust privacy policy not only means you can be sure the site in question operates within the law but also that it looks after the people who visit it. 


Are contact details easy to find on the website? 


This is another simple yet effective way to verify if any website you are on is safe. Put simply, if the site is a scam and operated by criminals, they will be unlikely to put contact details anywhere on it. This is because they do not want people to get in touch with them or to leave a trail for the authorities to follow. If a site does have a good range of contact details (such as email, postal address, social media accounts, live chat and a telephone number), this is normally a sign that it is honest and safe to use. Of course, as an extra check, it is worth getting in touch with them first to see if they respond in a professional way.


Do they have the right licences and regulations? 


While not all businesses need specific licences or regulatory accreditation to operate lawfully, those in industries such as online gambling or the financial sector do. To check if a website is safe to use, have a look on the site for details of any required licencing or accreditation. If a UK-based investment website does not hold FCA approval, for example, then it is best not to sign up and invest money online with them. Even if regulation or accreditation is not needed for a website to operate legally, those that are recognised by the relevant bodies in their sector are worth looking out for. 


Stay safe when surfing the web 

Recent cybersecurity statistics show that cybercrime is projected to cost $6tn annually by 2021. This shows just why keeping an eye on what sites you are using and how safe they are is crucial. If you live in Paisley and needed a few tips to get started with this, the above should help. One thing is for sure – you will certainly not regret taking cybersecurity seriously and being able to surf the web with total peace of mind.


Founder of Paisley.org.uk in 1998 and constantly strives to change peoples attitudes to the town, Brian is a self described Paisley Digital Champion who promotes Paisley via any means necessary. You can also follow me on X