Scammers’ latest phishing attacks are using that little green padlock to fool you

Chrome ad blocker

When you visit a website in a browser, it’s long been advised that you check for the green padlock icon next to the web address in the URL bar to indicate that you’re visiting a secure site. However, as cybercriminals and hackers are also using security features — for the nefarious purpose of tricking you — that security advice no longer holds true.

Cybersecurity researchers at PhishLabs reported that nearly half of all fraudulent websites are also using the green padlock symbol in the URL bar, with the hope that you’ll be fooled into thinking that you’re in fact visiting a legitimate and secure site. And because many web surfers have been trained into believing that the green padlock logo indicates that a site is safe, the number of fraudulent websites adopting the padlock has increased from 24 percent in 2017 to nearly 50 percent in 2018.

When a browser shows the green padlock in the browser bar, it means that a site is sending information over an encrypted connection. That doesn’t mean that only legitimate sites will have access to the padlock logo, but it does mean that you should not enter private information — like credit card or Social Security numbers — on a site lacking that logo. However, given that hackers are getting more sophisticated, you should also do more research and make sure you’re actually on a legitimate website even when you do see a green padlock.

When you’re visiting a fraudulent website with a green padlock, it means that the information you’ve entered will be transmitted over an encrypted connection. But instead of going to your favorite ecommerce site to make your purchase, your credit card details will be transmitted securely to a hacker phishing for your information.

Researchers cite cheaper access to encrypted connections as one reason for the rise in fraudulent websites with the green padlock. “Criminals can now easily obtain certificates that enable the padlock to show up and encryption to take place, and they can do it without revealing very much about who they are,” CNET reported.

The increased use of the green padlock may also stem from publicity around the feature. Popular browsers like Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox began flashing red warnings to users when they visited an unsecured site, which is often noted with an HTTP rather than an HTTPS prefix.

Product Review

Origin's Chronos PC is no looker, but it plays games with eye-popping detail

The Chronos is Origin’s smallest PC, but while it occupies less space than most A/V receivers, it delivers the power of a much larger desktop. Its dull exterior design does the system a disservice. Once you turn it on, you won’t be…

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.

How good are you at spotting phishing scams? Take this quiz to find out

Are you able to discern between a legitimate email and one that's a scam designed to phish for your personal information? Google created an online quiz with tips to help you better understand phishing so you don't become a victim.

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.

Zipping files on a Chromebook? Follow these four easy steps

Chromebooks support file compression, though they work a little differently than on Windows or Mac. Here's the step-by-step process to zipping files on a Chromebook, and then unzipping them again for extraction.

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.

Patent application reveals what’s to come after AMD’s Graphics Core Next

A published patent application from AMD has revealed a new type of graphics processor core which could make a big difference to the capabilities of its GPUs if it finds its way into them in the future.

Microsoft targets Chrome OS with $189 Windows 10 laptops for education

Microsoft announced seven new low-cost Windows 10 laptops, all priced under $300 to take on Chromebooks and iPads in the education market, along with a new Microsoft Allora stylus for students using the Surface Go tablet.

Lenovo patent hints at a future tablet with a folding screen

Folding devices are a new trend, and according to a recent patent, Lenovo is considering a foldable 2-in-1 with a hinge mechanism that would allow consumers to bend back the screen on the device. 

Wifi Porter is a high-tech block of wood that lets you share your broadband

Tired of manually connecting your guests to your home Wi-Fi network? The latest invention from the folks at Ten One Design, the WifiPorter, allow individuals to connect to your Wi-Fi with the tap of their phone, or by scanning an available…