When it comes to website security, not one specific defense will give the protection needed. By using encryption, certificates and trust seals, your security has several defenses against hackers.
The first line of defense is encryption. Without encryption, the information you transfer to any website would be viewable by others. Encryption depends on certificates to function.
Similar to most certificates, the purpose of website security certificates is to indicate that things are what they claim to be. When you visit a website, your computer asks the website for a certificate. The primary purpose for the certificate is for your computer to “shake hands” with the website and decide upon an encryption key that only your computer and the website can identify and use. In this way, the certificate allows your information to be transmitted to the website by an encrypted connection. This is very important but there is another reason your computer asks for a certificate from the website you’re visiting.
Websites which are well known and trusted by their visitors, particularly those which don’t request financial information, are likely to create and self-sign a certificate. Self-signing saves them money and still provides for encryption. However, those sites which transfer financial information should pay a Certificate Authority (CA) to verify that the website is exactly what it claims to be -adding another level of security for the careful online shopper to trust. These are things you, the consumer, can watch for when visiting websites, particularly those that will require your personal and financial information. There is, however, another line of defense worthy of serious consideration.
Trust seals provide even greater security from those much more determined to view and exploit your private information. More accurately, the trust seal is an indication to you that the website you are visiting has taken greater measures to keep your information safe. Be sure to look for such seals displayed on the websites you visit before you enter your sensitive information. These seals are provided by companies that scan for vulnerabilities and provide feedback regarding any “holes” in the website’s security. You can read more about trust seals at www.trustguard.com as well as on this blog.