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Frequently Asked Questions [Learn about the Internet]
INTERNET  |  Sympatico Service  |  Computers and Modems

What is a secure connection?

A secure connection is one that provides encryption for the data that is transferred between your computer and the Web site you are viewing, making it very difficult for anybody else to intercept and decode your messages.

How can I tell if I have a secure connection?

Your browser has a way of telling you when you are connected to a secure site. Depending on your browser, an image will appear at the bottom of the window to indicate a secure site. You should also make sure that you will be notified when you enter and leave a secure site.

If you are using Netscape Navigator, a key image ( secure link icon ) at the bottom left of your window means that you have a secure link to the current Web page. If the key is broken ( insecure link icon ), your connection to the Web page is not secure, and outside parties could have access to any information you send.

Similary, with Netscape Communicator, a closed padlock ( secure link icon ) means that you have a secure link to the current Web page, and an open padlock ( insecure link icon ) means that your connection to the page is not secure.

With Microsoft Internet Explorer, a different looking padlock ( Microsoft IE secure link icon ) at the bottom right of the screen means that you have a secure connection to the Web page.

The term "secure connection" refers to your connection to the Web page only. It has nothing to do with your dial-up connection.

By double-clicking the key or padlock icon (depending on your browser), you can view information on the security of the current page.

Secured transactions are also indicated in the location bar of your browser by the prefix https:// rather than http:// (https stands for "hyper-text transfer protocol, secured").

Be alert: you may encounter pages which falsely claim to be secure. If you don't see the secure icon ( secure link icon or secure link icon or Microsoft IE secure link icon ), you don't have a secure connection to the Web page.

You can see a secure page by going to Amazon.com and going through the process of ordering a book. You do not need to actually buy the book to see a secure page.

Related issues about security and online shopping:

How to tell when you are entering and leaving a secure site
How does a secure link work?
How hard is it for somebody else to decode the encryption protecting my personal information?
How do I view security information for a page?
How do I view my browser's current security settings?

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