These Are The Websites To Stay Away From Because They Practically Guarantee A Virus


This article has been updated since it originally published on March 23, 2023. 

If you’ve ever clicked on a link someone sent you, say in an email or a direct message, only to be directed to a website that looked super suspicious, you know that feeling of wondering whether you’ve just infected your phone or computer with a virus. Hackers are becoming more and more clever in how they disguises malicious sites and try and get you to click through to them. And it isn’t enough to be told a certain site is off limits — the practice has become so ubiquitous that it isn’t limited to just a few sites or site types. Instead, it’s important to think like a tech expert might when visiting a site and doing a bit of investigating before you continue to browse it or — worse — provide it with any personal or credit card information. 

Tech Security Expert Ben Tibbits, managing director at, says there are several warning signs that can alert you to the possibility of a malicious website. Don’t be fooled — these are the websites you need to stay away from to avoid viruses. 

Check URLs 

Before visiting any site, Tibbits cautions that it is important to make sure you check out its URL — if it looks suspicious or unfamiliar, do not proceed with the visit. 

He adds: “Pay attention to URLs that have:

– Unfamiliar domain name extensions (other than the common .com, .org and .net)

– Unusual characters such as “%” or “?”

– Incorrect spelling of well-known websites

– IP addresses instead of domain names

– An incomplete URL (no trailing slash at the end)”

Another big sign to look out for is an SSL certificate. “Always make sure that any site you are visiting has a valid SSL certificate which can usually be seen as a padlock icon in the address bar,” Tibbits says. “If there is no padlock visible, this could indicate that the website is not secure and should be avoided.”

How can you tell if you've been infected with a virus?


What if you’ve already visited a suspicious website and aren’t sure what that can mean for you?


“If you're worried you may have visited a malicious website and think that your computer might have been infected with a virus, there are several signs to look out for,” Tibbits says. “These include sudden changes to your system settings (such as a new home page or new search engine), pop-up windows appearing frequently, slowdown in the performance of your computer, random error messages, and the appearance of unfamiliar programs in your computer.”

What should your first step be if you suspect you have a virus?


Don’t sleep on the suspicion that you have a computer virus. “If you think your computer system may have been infected with a virus, the first step should be to run an anti-virus scan,” Tibbits says. “This will help identify any malicious software on your system and remove it. It is also important to keep all of your software up to date since many viruses target vulnerabilities in outdated programs. Finally, make sure to regularly back up your files as this will make recovery much easier should you become infected by a virus.”


And, of course, knowing how to identify a potentially dangerous website before anything does happen is key to protecting yourself.