Making a Secure Payment

Security on the web is a very big concern today and violations can comes in many differing forms such as Spyware, Viruses and fraudulent sites.

Whenever you view a page on a web site information is sent between your computer and the web server hosting the site, more often than not via many servers, computers, routers etc..... each one of these points has the potential to document anything you enter. This information is more often than not sent in plain text format which means that it will be visible to anyone should they come across it. Now consider how many times in a week you enter passwords, view your bank information or enter your credit card details!!

To see how many different terminals your information visits before it finds its destination follow the simple instructions below.

If you have a Windows PC then complete the steps below:

  • Click on "Start" and then on "Run"
  • In the next window type the following - "cmd" and then hit return
  • Now, type the following phrase exactly - tracert www.ssl.com and hit return
Command prompt screen

Windows command prompt screen

Once the list has completed you may see up to 30 differing references. Each of these points has the potential to record your information!

With the above information in mind you can now see how important it is to protect your personal details, but how can you be sure that any sites you visit and more importantly any personal information you may pass over is done in a secure fashion?

There are several ways to confirm that any personal or sensitive information you may pass between your computer and a server is via an SSL encryption (Secure Socket Layer).

  1. Check the URL - Most html pages e.g. a normal web page such as our home page www.diydoctor.org.uk begin with "http". If a web page is hosted on a secure server it will begin with "https" with the "s" signifying a secure server
  2. As you may be aware there are numerous web browsers available on the market today such as Internet Explorer, FireFox, Google Chrome and Opera to name just a few but all of them feature the display of a "Lock" icon somewhere within the browser window to signify the fact that a page is secure. These are not just static images either. If you click on them security information about the page you are viewing is displayed. It is important to check the functionality of these images as many fraudulent sites feature an imitation "Lock" icon to trick you into thinking that you are viewing a secure page.
Secure Server URL

The S of https indicates a secure server

Secure Lock Icon

Secure lock icon in address bar

Although the "Lock" icon is a good indication of a secure page it should act as a reminder to investigate a page further. Double click on the lock and you should see a valid security certificate for the site. If all is in order as above, then paying by secure payment page on a website is safer than crossing the road !

Secure page certificate

Secure page certificate