Look For 'HTTPS' When Sending Sensitive Info Online
Posted: December 11, 2012
This Christmas season, I hope you have seen URLs that start with “https://” instead of “http://.”
Here is a short lesson on the difference:
The basic “http” stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol,” which is the main prefix for most websites. “Http” allows browsing on the Internet, linking to sites and other online “mapping.” The four-letter combination begins the addresses for most websites.
Most sites do not require that “http://” be entered, meaning, for example, you can enter either “http://doubleclicks.info” or “doubleclicks.info” into a web browser’s address bar, press the enter key and access the website.
The other combination, “https,” means “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” with Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), or “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure” for short. This is basically the same as “http,” however, it allows safe and secure online transactions.
To use the secure version, you typically must type “https://” into the address bar or click a link which directs, or “maps,” you to the website.
The reason I hope you have seen “https” instead of “http” is because “https” should open the site’s URL when financial information is entered.
When using “https,” any information you send via that page is encrypted. That means that no one can read the information except the party on the receiving end.
It does take a little longer to send securely, since it has to encrypt the information before passing it along the web.
Another way to tell if you are using a secure site is to look for a lock icon in your browser. Usually, it is located to the right of the site address or on the left, where site icons usually are.
If you have never noticed the symbol, open your bank’s site and look for the lock.
If you do not bank online, look for the icon on “amazon.com.” Click the “Sign In” or “My Account” links. Even if you do not have an account, when you get to the sign-in page, you will see the lock in your address bar.
Many sites automatically use the secure protocol and many others rely on “https.” For some websites, you must indicate your preference for “https,” so check the sites you visit to be sure.
You only need to use the secure protocol when you are entering a username, password or account information, though you may be able to use it at other sites.
I once heard, “You never send a postcard in the mail with your username and password written on it for everyone to see, why do it online?”
That thought has some merit, so be careful online.
Contact Ron Doyle at email@example.com