What HTTPS Is & Why You Should Care

What HTTPS Is & Why You Should Care

Joelle Alcaidinho
Jun 28, 2011

With all of the news that we have been reading about private data being hacked we decided it was time we took a look at our browsing habits. Are we doing our best to keep our info safe? Are we following best practices in our online shopping?

As we starting thinking about how we spend money online we realized that some of the websites we frequent began with "https" and some just "http" and we wondered what the difference was.

A little online research yielded the answer to our question. HTTPS is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure and is a secure version of the HTTP we know and love. Basically it's HTTP with SSL. Secure Sockets Layer or SSL is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. SSL scrambles the connection between you and the intended recipient so that only the intended receipient can decode it. That Sony leak that was in the news recently? You guessed it, an encrypted connection was not used.

How can you be sure that the site you are buying from or putting your info in is using this secure technology? One way to spot this is the tell tale "https" in the URL, another is an image of a lock in your URL window of your browser.

An informal survey of the sites we commonly use showed that any site that we put payment information into was using HTTPS which made us feel a bit better about our online security habits. However, now that we are armed with this information we will be sure to check for that "s" and will think twice about any purchases from sites that are not using this secure technology.

More on security from the Unplggd archives:

Do you ever check for the "https?"

(Images: Flickr members Sybren A. Stüvel & John Menick licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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