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Internet address struc­ture and checking

Internet addresses, also called URLs (Uni­form Resource Loca­tors) or domains, are those addresses entered into your browser to access cer­tain web­sites. The URL struc­ture is stan­dard­ized und con­sists of var­ious com­po­nents which together form the com­plete address.

Internet address (URL) structure

A URL con­sists of the following:

Systematic structure of a trustworthy URL

Sys­tem­atic struc­ture of a trust­worthy URL

Internet pro­tocol: The Internet pro­tocol deter­mines how data are exchanged between browser and web server. Usu­ally, this is “http” or “https”, with “https” ensuring secure trans­mis­sion, since an encrypted con­nec­tion to the server is established.

Sub-domain: Most web­sites use “www” as their sub-domain. Fur­ther com­po­nents can also be used instead of “www” or option­ally after “www”, for instance “news”.

Domain name: The actual domain name is the unique web­site name (e. g. the name of the com­pany, asso­ci­a­tion or other organ­i­sa­tion involved). On this web­site, this is for instance “ebas”. This is the most impor­tant com­po­nent of any Internet address!

Top level domain: The term “top level domain” denotes the last com­po­nent (fol­lowing the last dot) of a domain. For Switzer­land, this is gen­er­ally “ch”. In this case, the domain is reg­is­tered in Switzer­land. But other top level domains, such as “com” (for “com­mer­cial”) can fre­quently be found in Switzer­land, too.

Direc­tory path: The direc­tory path indi­cates which page of a web­site is to be retrieved, e. g. “login”.

Faked Internet addresses (URLs)

Many scams are based on faked URLs to lure vic­tims to fraud­u­lent (phishing) web­sites. So that users cannot imme­di­ately recog­nise faked web­sites as such though, fraud­sters fre­quently add the name of a respectable com­pany, asso­ci­a­tion or organ­i­sa­tion to the domain they reserve, so that a URL might for instance look as follows:

Systematic structure of a faked URL

Sys­tem­atic struc­ture of a faked URL

At first glance, this URL looks quite sim­ilar to the offi­cial one. How­ever, this is obvi­ously a fraud if you look at the URL more closely (high­lighted in red):

  • “ebas” being the name of a respectable organ­i­sa­tion is merely the sub-domain here – thus irrelevant.
  • “ch-xyz” is the actual domain name – the scammer’s phishing web­site address.

You must there­fore always make sure to check the actual domain name! Many browsers there­fore high­light this part of the address (e. g. in bold or deep black let­ters) to make this easier to check.

Checking an Internet address (URL)

You can read up on the things you should look out for when accessing a web­site and on how you can check whether you are actu­ally on the cor­rect web­site in our article on Cer­tifi­cate Checking.

An Internet address (URL) serves to find con­tent on the Internet and con­sists of sev­eral com­po­nents. The most impor­tant part which you should also check is the actual domain name.

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