Staying Safe Online—The Importance of Secure Websites
Friday, July 30th, 2021
Many of us spend a significant part of our work and personal lives online. That trend is not likely to change, but we should take a few precautions to ensure we are protecting ourselves. One important step is making sure we are accessing safe websites.
During your web browsing you may have noticed a small green lock or piece of text next to the web address of your favorite blog, news source, sports page, or online shopping website. On other browsers, you may notice a little padlock and green text that says “Secure,” and other times we see gray text that says “Not Secure” or displays a little “i.” Often times, we ignore these little words and symbols and go back to watching our favorite cat video or reading a depressing article about the failures of our local sports teams. But what does the little lock stand for? What does it mean when we see the words “Not Secure?” Why on earth should you care?
These little words and symbols refer to whether a website is secured by Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secured, also known as HTTPS. HTTPS is a type of encryption commonly used to secure websites. In today’s digital world, information is constantly transmitted from your web browser as you access the Internet. Because of this, the security of data as it is “in transit,” or data as it moves from one place to another, is critical. Enter HTTPS, an important type of encryption for data as it moves across the web.
So what is HTTPS?
HTTPS ensures that a user’s Internet experience is secure as they use their computer to browse the web. HTTPS achieves this by scrambling data into an unreadable jumble of letters and numbers as it is transmitted from one computer to another, and by making certain the website your computer is interacting with is what is says it is, before allowing information to be sent back and forth.
What benefits does HTTPS provide to consumers?
HTTPS provides several benefits to users when they interact with a website, such as:
- Protection from bad actors: When a user is browsing a site, HTTPS limits hackers’ ability to track their activities or steal their information.
- Data integrity: When a user’s web browser is communicating with a website, such as when they are entering data into an online form, HTTPS makes that information less susceptible to data altering or corruption.
- Authentication: HTTPS ensures that users are communicating with the website they want to visit.
So why is this important?
In recent years, data security researchers, tech companies, and other organizations have pushed for the entire web to become secured through HTTPS. As a result, much of the Internet is now encrypted with this technology. This is because as consumers convey more and more of their information online, protecting their data is essential. Moreover, as technology develops, bad actors who are experts in hacking get better at computer crime, making it more important that users have a secure Internet experience.
Our next piece in this series will help explain the benefits of HTTPS to the websites for small businesses!
The articles in this series on website encryption, created to support National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, can be found at https://www.bbb.org/bbbsecure/. Support for the program was made possible by our Corporate Trust Roundtable partners, Facebook and Comcast.