Internet Street Smarts Tip: Browsing secure websites

Growing up in Japan I really enjoyed being a Boy Scout. To this day there are skills I acquired during my scouting years that I still use. Although this is not one of those skills, learning how to encode messages so only my friends and I could decipher and read them made us giddy.

Throughout history, from military adaptation of the Enigma machine to send coded messages to the frontlines, to the current day application in the digital world, use of encryption continues to be critical in guarding secrets and protecting individual privacy.

Simply put, encryption ensures that only authorized parties can read the message. An example of encryption in the digital world is for your computer/tablet/smartphone to communicate securely with the bank’s computer so you can pay your utility bills, transfer funds or conduct other transactions.

As my readers know, we use an application called the “browser” to explore the cloud (aka internet) from our computer/tablet/smartphone. Just like multiple makes of a pickup truck exist (Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado and Toyota Tacoma), there are multiple makes of a browser (Mozilla FireFox, Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer).

Browsers interpret internet’s standard language so they can present the text, images, sounds and videos of the website visited. “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol” or simply “http” can be seen preceeding the address of the website you are visiting, such as the WBVO’s website address which is displayed as in the upmost horizontal box of the browser (otherwise known as the the “Universal Resource Locator” or “URL” box).

When the URL box displays “https,” the trailing “s” signifies secure and encrypted communication taking place between your browser and the destination website. Most often https is employed by banks, online shopping sites, and others where security and privacy is paramount.

So when visiting websites such your bank's, always verify that the browser is using “https” so your communication is encrypted and secure from prying eyes!

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 7, Issue 10, Posted 9:37 AM, 05.19.2015