Everyone knows about the ominous threat of identity theft. We would never purposely give up our private financial information, that’s why most of your incriminating information is usually obtained by tricking us into ‘willingly‘ giving it up. Phone calls, emails, and other ‘phishing’ techniques are often hard to spot. (to read ways you may not think your id could be stolen read ProtectMyID.com)
How Do You Know an Online Website is Safe?
Fortunately, the days of being afraid to order online is in the past. We can thank a technology that you have probably heard of called SSL.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – is “the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser”.
Sound like Greek to you? Me too. Well, all you really need to know is below. (as of January 2013)
Number one thing to look for in a secure webpage:
In the web address box, there will ALWAYS be HTTPS instead of the usual HTTP.
https://mommaschoice.com instead of: http://mommaschoice.com or www.mommaschoice.com
You won’t usually see the http in an address, but you WILL ALWAYS see the “s” in the https:// on a secure site. Since there are many levels of security and companies that provide SSL, everything else can vary. With https you can be assured there is some form of security on the website, and are probably OK to reveal your info.
However, seeing the https:// does NOT guarantee security . . .
but- if there is no HTTPS – it does guarantee it is NOT secure.
If you can’t live without whatever you were going to buy, then use their PayPal option. If there is not a PayPal option, then you may be dealing with someone looking for your information for all the wrong reasons. Walk away (or click away..)
What About The Little Yellow Lock?
Of course, you know to look for the yellow lock, and if you see the https:// AND the lock, then you’re safe. Many people think if they see the lock, they’re safe. The problem is that lock will look different on different browsers and each company issuing the SSL certificates will have a different look, too. However, combined with https:// in the address bar, you are probably safe. Whenever you are in doubt, check the domain in the website* listed below.
“The Company Said That It Was Safe..”
I had one company tell me that because it was being sent to a trustworthy company it was safe. If you want to know how many machines your info travels over before they arrive to their ‘trusted’ receiver, try this simple test for Windows Users from SSL.com
To see just how many machines your information traverses with one click, follow these steps:
1) On your computer, click Start, then Run
2) Type “cmd” and click “OK” (or press Enter)
3) Type this in exactly: tracert www.ssl.com
4) Press Enter
Each listing in the window is a different computer/router/switch (a “node” in networking terms). Each “node” represents a point at which any data you send might be recorded! It is not uncommon to see 20-30 listings. (each stop presents a threat)
How To Know For Sure a Website is Secure
Ask the creators of the SSL technology themselves. Just type in your domain and you will find your answer quickly.
Now you know. Tell your friends, especially those not so ‘computer savvy’.
For more information specific to your browser, see:
Chrome: Website security indicators
Firefox: How do I tell if my connection to a website is secure?
Safari: Using website encryption and secure connections in Safari 5.1 or earlier
Internet Explorer: When to trust a website