How do “secure servers” work? When I give my information, is it really safe?
There are two things that indicate a secure web page:
First, you will notice that the domain changes to “https://”. Second, a little padlock appears in the status bar at the bottom of your browser.
When you log onto a secure server it communicates with your browser for a few seconds. During this communication, it sends your browser encryption information that only it and your browser can read.
Once this encryption is set, it acts like a normal web page, except that all info coming or going is encrypted. This encryption makes it extremely difficult for any third party who would intercept the transaction to decipher it. All this extra protection is why secure servers seem to run slower than their non-secure counterparts.
Secure connections only protect the info as it is coming and going, not when it’s just sitting on the server.
That being said, you probably have a better chance of getting ripped off by a sales clerk copying your credit card number at a department store than getting your information stolen over the internet.
In fact, I have never personally heard of anyone getting their card number stolen during an online transaction, secure or otherwise. Sure, I’ve heard of people using their credit card online, then having the number stolen, but they could not prove if the theft happened during the transaction or after (I’m betting after).