A secure online connection is described as the exchange of information between a website visited and a browser in an encrypted format using a document called a certificate. When information is sent to the website from your computer, it is encrypted by your computer and decrypted by the website such that the information or date transmitted cannot be seen, tampered with or read by an unauthorized person or a bot.
However, it is not a fool proof system as your encrypted information can also be compromised by the way the website uses or transmits the received data or information or from some other mischievous persons who employ the use of software , malware, spyware or any bot of that nature to decode the encryption.
There is also the possibility that an encrypted connection might not be private as websites visited or documents uploaded may still be visible in the computer logs stored in the computer system especially if such computers are for companies with networking facilities.
How do I know if My Connection is Secure?
Secure online connections can be verified when you click on the lock icon that appears on the address bar on your browser when you visit the site. There you can see all the information about the website or the organization. Thus, it means that when the lock icon appears, which is usually in form of a pad lock, it means that such a website has a certificate that encrypts the data.
What Do the Different Colors that Appear In the Security Status bar mean?
When you visit a website and discover that it has different color coding for the security status bar, then it shows the level of validation by the certifying organization and also tells the website user or visitor whether the certificate is valid or not.
White: This means that the certificate has a normal validation that the communication between your browser and the website is secure. However, it does not indicate any practices or services of the website.
Red: The certificate is out-of –date and therefore, not secure. Users are thus advised to be careful while using the site in transmitting sensitive or private data.
Green: This means that the certificate uses an extended validation and the data you transmit is encrypted and therefore secure. It also shows that the certifying authority has verified the website’s business as legal and authentic.
Yellow: It indicates that there is a problem with authenticating the legality or authority of the certifying authority or that there might be a problem with the website of the certifying organization.
It is not a certainty that all encrypted connections is safe to use at all times. A secure connection only tells you the authenticity of the website based on the information available to the certifying authority. If you suspect a website is trying to mislead you about its security certificate status all you need do is to contact the certifying authority whose name appears on the certificate and on the security status bar.
Sometimes a webpage may try to display both secure and non-secure elements, HTTPS/SSL and HTTP respectively. This usually occurs if websites are displaying contents such as images and videos from non-secure servers. The problem here in having a website displaying mixed content is that the non-secure script might be accessing contents from the secure content.
If you use internet explorer browser, you can turn on the Smartscreen feature to help you identify fraudulent websites and stay away from them. You can also look out for forum discussions, scam advises on blogs or check out the Whois details of such a site.