Almost everyone in the world browses the internet every day. People look up information, shop, chat with friends, or just pass the time by surfing the web. Internet browsing has become second nature to us that we often forget one thing: checking our address bar for an “S” after the “HTTP” prefix. HTTPS protocol is essential.
HTTPS protocol encryption
The “s” in HTTPS stands for “secured”. It came out in 1995, so older websites that have been left on their own usually don’t have it. But even to this day, unsecure websites exist, and fraudsters can easily take advantage of them.
When you visit an HTTP site 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 readily view them. Cybercriminals can exploit this fact to gain access to your personal data, Social Security number, credit card information, and the like. 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.
It's easy to trick a perfectly safe web address into a malicious website. Most of the time, users are sent to sites similar to the real site.
To prevent such things 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.
How does HTTPS protocol affect our daily browsing habits?
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:
- If your browser marks a website as “unsafe,” listen. Only click the prompt if you are absolutely certain nothing will transmit.
- Add web browser extensions such as HTTPS Everywhere that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites. These extensions encrypt your communication with websites, and are compatible with Chrome, Firefox, and Edge browsers.
- Always be vigilant. Some sites may have HTTPS but it doesn’t mean they’re safe. For example, goog1e.com (with the “l” replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but the misspelling indicates it to be an untrustworthy site. Cybercriminals use similar spellings of authentic websites to fool people into thinking that they’re in a secure site. This is URL hijacking.
- And perhaps, just follow the easiest step of all: avoid sites that, evidently, don’t use the HTTPS protocol.
If you want to learn more about safer browsing habits and endpoint security, give our office a call.