The Basics of Internet Security and Privacy Control
The global interenet community has changed the way people do business, socialize, and network. Just as city streets are bustling with people, websites are equaly busy with visitors. Just as you would protect your wallet on a busy city street, you also need to take measures to protect your online identity. The most common methods websites use to protect users is SSL and Certificates. SSL encrypts the communitication between you (the user) and the website (the server). Certificates are used to verify that the website you are communicating to is in fact the website you wish to communicate to. SSL and Certificates prevent other users from spying on your communication, which could reveal private identification, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, billing addresses, etc. This page will help you learn how to protect and identify fraudlant sites and users.
What is SSL?
Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL uses a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data - a public key known to everyone and a private or secret key known only to the recipient of the message. Both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer support SSL, and many Web sites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers.By convention, URLs that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http:.
Another protocol for transmitting data securely over the World Wide Web is Secure HTTP (S-HTTP). Whereas SSL creates a secure connection between a client and a server, over which any amount of data can be sent securely, S-HTTP is designed to transmit individual messages securely. SSL and S-HTTP, therefore, can be seen as complementary rather than competing technologies. Both protocols have been approved by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) as a standard.
Not all webpages need to be encrypted with SSL. SSL only needs to be on pages where you as a user input in personal information, such as user registration, credit card transactions, logging into a website, or veiw private message from another user on the internet.
What are Certificates?
A certificate is more then that annoying window that popups up in your browser, saying do you wish to accept this websites certificate. A certificate is like your driver's license. When you view a website that offers a certificate, a window will display with all of the websites location information. The certificate is a document contained on the website (the server) which you download onto your own computer. Certificates, or .crt files, are general stored in one location, just as cookies are saved from websites onto your computer.
Before acceptiing a certificate, read the location of where the website is coming from, and check to see who signed the certificate. A good certificate is signed or verified by a third party, such as Veri-SIgn, Go Daddy, or another company. If the third party who verifies or signs the certificate looks in question to you, then perform a simple internet search on that company to double check that they are a valid company. Larger websites, especially portal sites like yahoo, ebay, or google, may sign their own certificates. If a certificate is signed by the website that you are visiting, double check the certificate to make sure the domain of the third party is indeed the website you are visiting.
Protect your Identity
One of the first steps to protect you identity online is to make sure your computer is free of viruses and spyware. Spyware is designed to watch what you're doing on the web, along with listening into to all communication between you and every website you go to. Services such as Alexa will use tracking cookies that save on your computer and upload information to Alexa about every site that you visit. Some Trojan viruses are used on the internet to hijack your computer. If you computer is hijacked or you think that someone has hijacked your computer, disconnect your computer from the internet as soon as possible, and run a virus and spyware scanner offline. One of the best spyware removal tools is Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. It is free and very effective.
Once your computer is free of viruses and spyware, be sure that you are running a firewall. Firewalls are used to prevent other internet users from connecting to your computer and hijacking it. When your computer is hijacked, the third party user has complete control and access to all files on your computer, including passwords, email accounts, or financial records. Windows XP has a built-in firewall, however, there are dozens of good free firewalls that you can download from downloads.com.
Lastly, do not ever give out your full name, address, location, personal information, credit card numbers, and especially passwords. Tell no one your passwords. Your password is your lifeline to the internet. Even with all of the SSL and Certificates your website can have to protect you, encryption does nothing if you tell someone your password or personal information. This is why internet users have aliases. After you get to know a stranger on line, and possibly meet them in person, you may divulge more personal information, just as if you were to meet a stranger in the physical world.
Crackers, Phishers, and Scammers are professionals. They make it their business to steal information from you, to gain control of your identity, possessions, or contacts. Information can also be used as blackmail material or other forms of leverage. Professional data thieves will steal your identity faster than you can prevent it, if you don't know what to look out for from the start, which is why you are reading this now.
For more information about making your internet safer, please feel free to contact us
. We are more then happy to answer any question, comment, or concerns that you might have about our Internet Security. Thanks for taking the time to learn how to protect your online privacy and security.