A reader has a question about determining the safety of a CoolSite called Tinfoil.com that I suggested you check out:

“One question about this website (and the others I encounter) where my system snarls at me and tells me the site is not secure). If I’m REALLY sure I know some background about the site (like it’s recommended by a reliable person such as you!) I will go ahead. But are there any general guidelines on when to risk such a site? THANKS!”

Insecure website warnings are alarming but they don’t always mean the site poses a danger to you. Let’s take a look at Tinfoil.com. Chrome shows an insecure alert at the top of the address bar.

Click on that alert and you’ll see more details.

In the case of this site the alert is because the site is an http site and not an https site. http://www.tinfoil.com/

HTTP sites aren’t insecure if you’re just viewing them. If you’re supposed to enter information on a site that can be a problem. If you’re just browsing, it probably isn’t. Sometimes something as simple as having one icon or image with an HTTP address on a site will make it show up insecure. I’ve even come across several local government websites that show this warning.

Converting from http to https is not as simple as flipping a switch. PickWeb made this little diagram to describe the process.

For many older sites that don’t make a profit, the switch is cost-prohibitive.

When I speak about the insecure site warnings, I’m not talking about any kind of notification from your security software that it detects malware on a site.

My general guidelines would be to not enter any information or download anything from an insecure site. If it’s a site you’ve been using for years or one that comes from a trusted source, I’d feel a bit safer checking it out.

Also, is it a site that makes some kind of offer that’s too good to be true? That’s always pretty suspicious. Make sure you have proper security software installed and activated on your computer.