A secure web page protects your computer from invasion and your personal data from theft. Appropriate security measures may be undertaken by the site, your browser or you and ideally, by all three! Let’s take a look at internet security, past and present.
Web Security Then and Now
As the popularity of PCs grew in the 1980s, so did malicious software that could target and infect a computer, damaging it or stealing its resources.
At first, viruses spread by diskette. In the age of the Internet, email, instant messages and the Web itself have become the most frequent source of assaults on ALL devices, including smart phones and tablets. The bad guys also try to fool you into handing over crucial personal information of your own free will--typically by masquerading as a business entity you trust, a practice known as "phishing.“ (For more information on Phishing, see “Key Types of Malware” chapter.)
Most standard browsers (including Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox) enable robust encryption and include a range of basic protections against viruses, phishing and other attacks. These measures are usually improved in each new version, so make sure to keep your browser updated. For more information about ways to protect your computer, see “How to protect against viruses”.
Features of a Secure Web Page
A website owner can take steps to prevent malicious agents from spying on or interfering with your transactions. An encrypted connection achieves this. The letters "https" at the beginning of the web address URL (as opposed to "http" with no "s") indicate that an encryption protocol called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is active. Your browser should also display a lock icon. For more information on URL’s, see “Beginners guide to the internet” section.
Some websites--for example, those of banks and credit card companies--are especially concerned with protecting information you transmit. Others, such as online email sites, encrypt only your password.
On an encrypted page, you will see “https” indicating that Secure Socket Layers (SSL) are active and a padlock or similar icon advising that the site is authentic and your information is encrypted.
The most common types of secure pages are those where you have to enter information, such as your name, date of birth, address and card details.