We browse websites every day so it’s important that we know how to spot weaknesses in our browsing – this small tip can really help.
Certificates – you may have never heard of them in the context of internet security however they are a really important piece of keeping your connection and data secure.
What is a certificate?
A Security Certificate is a validation and encryption tool which is a part of the HTTPS that you see in most of the URL bar. When using a Security Certificate, it secures and encrypts all data travelling between the server and the customer. Having one of these reassures the user that it a legit and stable website. One of the most notable types of sensitive data are social security numbers and credit cards.
How does it work?
A security certificate in simple terms is no different to how other certificates are used, for example, at school you may have received a certificate for having 100% attendance, this certifies that you have done something and provides a record of this. A certificate in the sense of security is very similar, it is a type of document / file that proves the authorisation of a device and what the device is – so if the device changes or is altered, it the certificate would no longer be valid, similar to if you stopped achieving your attendance.
How can I tell if a website is secure?
When on a website it is identifiable whether the website has a Security Certificate because it will have a padlock in the location bar, if it doesn’t have an SSL certificate it will say “Not secure” in the location bar. If you click on this padlock it will allow you to see the details of the website. It shows you who it is issued to, issued by and when its valid.
As a rule of thumb, ALL websites should use a security certificate and allow for you to browse in a secure way, however some websites still don’t use them (not using a certificate can hurt your search rankings if you have your own website). If there isn’t a secure connection, DO NOT enter credit card or other sensitive information as it will be travelling over the internet in ‘plain text’ essentially, anyone could intercept it and capture it.
See the below screenshot of the mappd.io website as an example of a secure site
If you cant see the ‘secure’ icon on a website address bar, DON’T enter sensitive information like credit card details or personal information!