Online Shopping Tips: E-Commerce and You (Lesson 2 – Shop at Secure Web Sites)


How can you tell if a Web site is secure? It uses encryption technology to transfer information from your computer to the online merchant’s computer. Encryption scrambles the information you send, such as your credit card number, in order to prevent computer hackers from obtaining it en route. The only people who can unscramble the code are those with legitimate access privileges. You can tell when you are dealing with a secure Web site in several ways:


  • First, if you look at the top of your screen where the Web site address is displayed, you should see https://. The “s” that is displayed after “http” indicates that Web site is secure. Often, you do not see the “s” until you actually move to the order page on the Web site.
  • Another way to determine if a Web site is secure is to look for a closed padlock displayed at the bottom of your screen. If that lock is open, you should assume it is not a secure site.
  • The third symbol that indicates you are on a secure site is an unbroken key.


Of course, transmitting your data over secure channels is of little value to you if the merchant stores the data unscrambled. You should try to find out if the merchant stores the data in encrypted form. If a hacker is able to intrude, it cannot obtain your credit data and other personal information. Be sure to read the merchant’s privacy and security policies to learn how it safeguards your personal data on its computers. (Wait for Lesson 4)

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