As the number of online business transactions increases, so does the number of internet hackers. If scammers aren’t trying to intercept your data en route to a legitimate website, then they’re trying to trick you into putting your personal information into their spoof websites. Before you enter your personal information into a website, check to make sure that it’s secure. That way, you reduce your risk of giving an internet scammer exactly what he wants.
An “s” in https://
When you enter your personal information, like a credit card number or Social Security number, into a page with an “https” prefix to the URL, you know your information is being encrypted. That means the information is scrambled and only someone who has the encryption key can decode it. A hacker would have a hard time figuring out what you’ve entered into the website.
If you enter your personal information into a website that simply has an “http” URL prefix, that information can easily be understood by anyone who intercepts it. It’s the difference between putting a check into a clear envelope and one of those security envelopes that’s blue inside.
A closed, clickable lock
When you’re on a secure website, you’ll notice a closed padlock lock in the lower-right hand of your internet browser’s security bar. In most browsers, the lock appears in the lower-right corner of the status bar. (In Safari, the lock appears in the upper-right corner of the browser.)
You should be able to click on the lock to get more information about the site’s security, including its SSL certificate information.
An SSL certificate
You can verify a website that uses data encryption by checking the SSL certificate. SSL stands for secure sockets layer. It’s a technical term for the encrypted link between your internet browser and the web server that you’re sending information to. An SSL connection can’t be created without an SSL certificate.
You can verify the presence of the certificate by clicking the security lock in your browser. A reputable company like VeriSign, Comodo, or GoDaddy should issue the SSL certificate. Look for the website’s name on the certificate and check to be sure the certificate is valid and has not expired.
Security isn’t everything
Just because a website is secure doesn’t necessarily mean it’s trustworthy. A hacker could potentially set up a secure website and use all the security measures to coax you into entering your personal information. It’s still important to use common sense in any online transaction. That means entering your personal information only into websites that you trust while staying away from suspicious websites.