Posted on Wednesday July 21, 2021Everyone uses the internet daily for a variety of reasons: to work, shop, or communicate with other people. Browsing the internet has become so commonplace that we often forget to check whether the websites we visit are safe. Let this serve as a reminder: a website can be deemed safe if the website’s URL has an “S” after the “HTTP.” Learn why that “S” matters.
The “S” in HTTPS stands for “secured.” It was introduced in 1995, so older websites that have been left on their own without regular maintenance usually don’t have it. But even to this day, unsecure websites exist, and fraudsters can easily take advantage of them.
When you visit a site with an HTTP connection, everything you type or click on that website is sent without encryption. This means that anyone who intercepts the data transferred between the website and your computer can view them as is. Cybercriminals know this, and they can exploit this fact to gain access to your Social Security number, credit card information, and other personal data. This puts you at risk of identity theft and other fraudulent activities.
When you visit a website, your computer uses an online directory to translate its alphanumeric name into a numerical address. It then saves that information on your computer so that it doesn’t have to check the online directory every time you visit the same website.
In case your computer gets compromised, it could be manipulated into directing a perfectly safe web address like www.google.com to a malicious website. Most of the time, users are sent to sites that look exactly like the legitimate site but are actually fake copies designed to trick them into divulging their credentials.
To prevent such incidents from happening, the online directories mentioned earlier issue an ecosystem of certificates that turn HTTP into HTTPS, making it impossible for anyone to be redirected to a fraudulent website.
We often visit a multitude of websites in a short period of time without checking each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, we can’t ignore the importance of HTTPS, so here are a few things to consider the next time you browse the internet: