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[INTERNET] If you’ve ever gone to a web page only to be met with a bold message telling you the site was not secure, you were nervous, right? Maybe the message looked like the image below, or perhaps it was different, but the point was the same.  You were getting a warning telling you that you may not want to proceed. Perhaps it said that the connection was not private. Or that it was potentially unsafe.

Sometimes it surprises you because you may have been on that page just the other day!

You may even have noticed this happening more frequently … you know, getting a warning message on web pages that you have used before.

This is because in 2019 the technology for increased security on webpages has advanced significantly … to protect you and your personal information.  Now the best-practice is to make sure every web page has an extra level of “safeness”.

This is done by having them SSL Certified. (It doesn’t matter what SSL means  literally. Instead, think of it as  a “Safe and Secure License”.)

When the page has this protection you will see an “s” at the end of “http://”.

You can tell if a site is SSL Certified … look for the “https://” at the beginning of a URL address.

  • Webpages that start with “http://” are the older, standard sites.
  • Those that begin with “https://” (note the “s”) are the ones that are secure.

How Can You SEE if a Website is Secure?

Each browser  (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer) has its own way of displaying that a site is secure — and the image of a PADLOCK in the address bar (usually green or gray) is the KEY that confirms it.

If you use Chrome or Firefox to get to the Internet, you see that these examples have the green padlock displaying with the word “Secure” next to it. And you see the “s” after “http”.

 

What happens when they DON’T have the SSL certificate and DON’T show the “s” or padlock?

For example, in the image below, you see that this site does not have the padlock. And when you click on the information link (the “i” in a circle), it displays a message telling you “Your connection to this site is not secure.”

Why Should You Care?

When you visit a website, should you care if it is secure or not?

If you’re reading a blog and not entering any personal data into forms on the site, then securing your information is not a factor.

But if you’re entering any information on the site, protecting your data is important.

A secure “HTTPS” website protects your data in these ways:

  • Confidentiality encrypts (codes) the data that you enter into a site (your name, credit card, etc.) so that no one else can read it.
  • Data Integrity ensures the information that you key into website forms to be transmitted is not tampered with in transit. It can’t be intercepted by hackers.
  • Authentication verifies the ownership of the website. It prevents hackers from creating realistic looking copies of websites designed to steal your information.

How You Can be Vigilant

It may take some time for all websites to become complaint and institute the HTTPS protocol.  But you can take precautions.

  • If you visit a site and don’t see a green padlock, as long as you’re not entering data in a form, most likely the site may not be harmful.
  • However, before you enter any information into a form, even an email address — but especially credit card information, look for that green padlock to ensure your information is transmitted safely. 

What You Can Do if a Website Isn’t Displaying in Your Browser

Each site’s SSL certification has to be renewed in intervals (sometimes every 90 days, or annually) to ensure it is still valid.  Sometimes the automatic system that does this runs into a streaming glitch, so the renewal doesn’t kick in.  The owner of the site then has to trigger it manually to re-certify.  If this is a known webpage to you, you can bypass the warning by clicking on “Advanced” and choosing to proceed to the page.