Online shopping is a popular choice for many consumers because it is convenient and can be done whenever the consumer has a few minutes. It is much easier to quickly zip online during lunch, make purchases and have them shipped to your home than fighting traffic to get to the store. In addition, it is more convenient to shop from the comfort of your home without the need to fight crowds during the holidays. Online retailers target consumers with deals, coupons and incentives for shopping online. However, you must be careful when providing information online and should only transact business through secure, safe websites. Learn the ways you can identify websites that are secure before you make a purchase from an online retailer.
1. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is used by secure websites to provide an additional layer of protection to keep information confidential. The SSL encrypts the information sent over the Internet, such as account numbers, usernames and passwords. Furthermore, an SSL certificate proves that the site you are using is a site verified by a certificate authority. To protect your information, check your internet settings to ensure that your internet browser is checking for SSL certificate mismatches, server certificate revocations and publisher’s certificate revocation.
2. Verify the URL, the website address, to make sure that you are on a secure website. Web page addresses usually begin with the letters “http.” However, when you are on a secure website, the letter “s” will be added so that the beginning of the address will now be “https.” Any information entered on this website will be encrypted before it is sent over the Internet.
3. Look for the lock icon on a secure website. Depending on your internet browser, the lock icon will be in the web address window or in the lower right or left corner of the browser page. This icon is not part of the web page being viewed, and it is not just an image. It contains information about the security of the web page. Click or double-click on the lock icon to view security information about the web page. If you have any doubt about the security information, do not submit personal information through that website.
4. Some antivirus software programs check websites to verify their security and status. Not all antivirus software programs do this; therefore, research software programs and choose one that checks websites for security and potential viruses.