When you’re surfing the internet, has it ever occurred to you that prying eyes may be watching the information you’re sending and receiving online?
One of the most effective ways of countering this and ensuring data security is through internet encryption. Unfortunately, it’s a subject very few people are familiar with. It’s designed to protect the confidentiality of digital data stored on computer systems or transmitted via the web and other computer networks.
Internet encryption involves the translation of data into a secret code. In order to read an encrypted file you must have access to a secret key or a password, which enables you to decrypt it. Ultimately, this makes it much harder for other internet users to see what information you’re transmitting via the web.
Without encrypted internet connections, vital data like your bank account details, business transactions and credit card numbers, even your relationship problems, would be visible to other people using the same network as you, including internet service providers and governments. Just imagine while you’re checking your bank account, especially if you’re using a wireless connection or a public Wi-Fi hotspot, someone else could be spying on you and checking your account too! One way to avoid this is by ensuring that when you visit a website, you do so over a secure connection.
The best way to make sure a website is safe to visit is by checking for security info about the site. For example, if you’re using Google Chrome’s browser, it will alert you if you can’t visit the site safely or privately. Just look for a padlock to the left of the web address. The padlock icon indicates the information you send or receive through the site is private and secure. You can click on it to see a summary of how private Chrome thinks the connection is.
On the other hand, if you see an icon in the form of a circle with the letter ‘i’ in the centre, this means the site is not using a private connection. Someone may be able to see or tamper with the information you send or receive through this site.
If you see a red triangle with the letter ‘i’ in the centre, this is a warning that the site is not secure. It could even expose your computer to crippling malware. Google suggests that you avoid entering any private or personal information on such a web page or, if possible, avoid using the site. In addition, according to Google, you might also see a “Login not secure” or “Payment not secure” message, a further indication that your private information could be at risk. Other browsers provide similar security alerts.
When you visit a site it’s also important to look out for the text “https” (not “http”) in the address bar at the top of the browser. This indicates that the website’s server uses a certificate to prove its security to the browsers.
Mozilla, the creators of the popular Firefox browser, estimates that just over 50 percent of web traffic is done over encrypted internet connections. .Clearly, this suggests that the best way to safeguard your data online is to be alert and stay informed about the various protective measures available. We also recommend a browser extension called HTTPS everywhere that encrypts your communications with many major websites, thus making your browsing more secure.