Date First Published: 24th March 2023
Subtopic: Security Mechanisms & Technologies
Difficulty Level: 5/10
Learn about why you should look for the padlock when entering personal information on sites in this article.
It is likely that you have noticed the padlock in the address bar on your web browser, especially when visiting a non-secure site as browsers draw attention to sites that do not use the padlock, which means that they do not use HTTPS, the more widely used and secure version of HTTP. The answer is that you should always look for the padlock on sites when entering personal information as it is not safe to enter any personal information, such as card details or passwords, on sites without the padlock and below is why.
Although HTTP, the non-secure version of HTTP may be okay for a website where users only read a few articles and do not enter any personal information, it becomes a huge security risk when entering sensitive information, such as financial details or passwords. With HTTP, all information is sent in plain text and could be read by someone that is monitoring the connection. As a result, sensitive information could go to the wrong person and it could cause a data breach. The information sent between the user and the server is not secure if you don't see the padlock. With HTTPS over SSL/TLS, data is encrypted into random characters to make it unreadable by anyone monitoring the connection, securing any personal information. The padlock is a key thing that you should look for when entering personal information on any site.
Nearly all sites use the padlock, even sites that do not require users to enter any personal information. HTTPS is becoming a practice for all websites and another reason for this is that it helps with the SEO of a website. This is because Google uses HTTPS as a minor ranking factor when determining the order of the search results.
The padlock sign just means that the connection to the website is encrypted. It does not mean that a website is legitimate as websites that are not legitimate can still use the padlock, so don't rely on the padlock itself to determine whether a site is trustworthy. Instead, you should look at the site name and check that it matches the name of the site you are expecting. This is because scammers can set up fake sites that look similar to the real site to trick you into entering your personal information. Also, you should check review sites, like Trustpilot to see what other people think of a site and whether it is legitimate, especially when shopping online. This is because online shopping websites might not be legitimate and you could end up buying something that you never receive.
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