Privacy Alerts - Internet Security

Internet security: secure protocols over the Internet

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (http) is a communications protocol used to transfer information on the Web. A communications protocol is basically a fancy expression for a language. So basically, it's the language that your internet browser uses. You'll see it as the first four letters (http) in your address bar (look up above).

When conducting online shopping or any type of secure transaction (e.g. E-Finance, IRS, signing in with your user profile, etc...), the more secure cousin of http is https (the "S" stands for security).

Strictly speaking, https is not a separate protocol, but refers to the combination of a normal http interaction over an encrypted Secure Sockets Layer (ssl) or Transport Layer Security (tls) transport mechanism. Basically this means the language is much more secure than its cousin. This ensures reasonable protection from eavesdroppers and man-in-the-middle attacks, provided it is properly implemented and the top level certification authorities do their job.

Man-in-the-middle attack (MITM) is an attack in which an attacker is able to read, insert and modify at will, messages between two parties without either party knowing that the link between them has been compromised. The attacker must be able to observe and intercept messages going between the two victims.

Basically, anytime you're signing into a website and want greater confidentiality, you want to look up at your address bar and make certain it says "https " rather than "http."

If the page doesn't load http by default, you can simply type in an "S" and put it in https format . This creates an encrypted transfer.

Did you know?: If you're using Google Docs & Spreadsheets for a sensitive document, notice that by default it is http.  Add the "S" to make it more secure.

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