Tech-Tip Friday – How to shop safely online…

Mar 27, 2015 Categories: How To, Tech-Tip-Friday

Do you shop online? Or use social media? If so, you need to know how to check if a website is secure. There are lots of computer hackers that attempt to access your information as it get’s transmitted online so it pays to know how to check if you, and your credit card, are safe online.

First of all, check the URL (the website address). Does it begin with ‘https‘ – that ‘s‘ stands for secure. You’ll usually see this on a website that requires a username or password or if it offers items for purchase. For example, on Facebook, once you’ve logged in, you’ll see that the website address (URL) is

Checking the url isn’t foolproof but it is a good place to start in checking if a website is using some security.

I use a Mac computer, so here’s what that looks like on my computer:

secure website identification

See that padlock? If I click on it, I will find more information about what security this website is using.

HTTPS means that the information you put into the website will be encrypted (turned into code) when it is transmitted. This is to stop ‘middle men’ intercepting your personal information or credit card details as it travels through the Internet to the website’s servers.

Secure websites have to have a ‘certificate’ to make this work. This is a bit of computer code that they set up that then encrypts all the data, and makes it readable again at the other end. It’s usually managed by a third party company that we can find more about by clicking on the padlock.

This is the same process on a Windows computer – the padlock is in the web address bar, but on the other end, towards the right side.

IE security on a website

Here’s what you might see on a Mac when you click on the padlock:

certificate details maccertificate details mac

You can read about the kind of encryption they use and check that the certificate (the security coding) is still current- and if you want to know more about the certificate you can also Google the terms to get an idea of how

My advice is to check the URL and the certificate before you put any personal details into a website.  If you can, you might like to use PayPal, which is a good alternative to typing in your credit card details into every website you come across – the more times you enter your data online, obviously increases the chances for problems to arise. PayPal is a third party company that stores your details on very secure website and then pass your payment on to whichever commercial website you’d like them to.

Make a note to check out the websites you use as you shop online. Found any bargains lately? Do share!


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