Before you purchase anything online, you should determine if the website to which you are about to transmit your financial information is secure. A secure connection is an encrypted exchange of information between the website you are visiting and the
browser you are using. Sending encrypted data prevents hackers from intercepting and stealing your personal and confidential information.
Encryption is the process of converting the information you type in (e.g., your name, address, and credit card number) into an unreadable format that only the receiving computer can decipher. It is done at your computer using the “key” provided in a document the website provides called an SSL certificate. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, and having this certificate means that the business website you are looking at is registered and from company that has been verified to be who they say they are.
So how do you know if a website has a certificate and a secure connection? There are two things to look for on to the webpage where you actually enter your credit card information. (There’s no need to check every webpage you view.)
When you are on the actual ordering page, or any time you are asked for personal information, look at the address of the web page, a.k.a. URL. It should begin with “https” rather than the standard “http.” The second thing is a padlock icon that should be closed, or locked position. The location of this icon will depend on what web browser you are using.
For example, if you use Internet Explorer, you’d see a gray padlock icon in the same box as the website address. If you use Google Chrome it’s a green padlock in the address bar. If you use Firefox, it would be a yellow padlock in the bottom right corner in the status bar. You get the idea! The padlock is a standard icon in internet safety.
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You can view the certificate by clicking or double clicking the padlock (depending on your web browser---it's OK to just try it). Upon clicking, a certificate dialogue box will pop up that contains information about who the certificate is issued to, who it was issued by, and when it expires.
If you ever get a warning that there is a problem with a website’s certificate, it could be because of problems such as the names on the certificates don’t match the website or the certificate has expired. If this happens, you may want to call the company and place your order by telephone rather than going through their website. If it’s your company whose website is throwing errors at your potential clients, we can help!