It used to be that people only really worried about adequate email security and accidentally opening a Trojan virus embedded in an email. Nowadays, more and more of our lives are intertwined with internet activity. We constantly browse from multiple devices, sign in to locations, take advantage of public Wi-Fi, and offer a significant amount of personal information through a very public and not always safely regulated medium. So how can we know that the website that we are on is safe, that our information is secure, and that our devices, finances, and security won’t be compromised?
Be Wary of Public Access
Obviously if you have free public access to Wi-Fi, such as in a café or bar, it is good to keep in mind that this connection is freely available to everyone and therefore is not safe. Use these connections carefully and minimally. Never do online banking over a free Wi-Fi connection or fill in any intimate personal information (address, social security number, passport number, etc.) that could be intercepted and compromised.
Make Sure the Site is Secure
Even when you do connect to a site through a secure and private Wi-Fi network, make sure that the site itself truly is secure before you offer any sensitive information. Particularly if you plan to shop online and divulge your mailing address and credit card information, check that the site has these features:
- It contains an HTTPS designation
- It displays a green padlock icon before the URL
Both of the indicators listed above mean that the site is secured through an SSL Certificate. You can see some of the security benefits of SSL certificates for your own website on this site, but ultimately what you need to know is that what the SSL (Secured Socket Layer) certificate does is encrypts the user’s connection to the website, ensuring that the path of information is not corrupted.
Only authentic sites with all of the necessary information of legitimate business operations can be approved for an SSL certificate. Because of this stringent process, you can be sure that only SSL secured sites can have an HTTPS designation (often now highlighted in green) before the domain name, accompanied by this green padlock icon in the browser address bar before the https designation. For information on the different types of SSL certificates, visit this site.
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