consumer guidelines

How to Know Whether a Site is Secure

Before you enter a credit card number online or create a username and password, make sure the web site is secure by looking for security indicators and that it is trustworthy by confirming identification information.

Security Indicators in the Browser Bar

When web browsers and web servers exchange confidential information over the public Internet, they need to do so in a private way. Web site owners who care about their users’ trust will provide encryption by using an SSL certificate. Some of the security indicators you may see when a site is encrypted include:

SSL EV Security Indicators Bar

Identification Information for Review

An SSL certificate may contain verified information about the web site it secures, such as the domain name, the organization name and its location. This helps you confirm that you are communicating with the site you intended to. Where to look:

  1. If the browser address bar turns green, the web site owner has gone through the industry’s highest standard of verification, Extended Validation. The verified name of the company that requested the SSL certificate and the trusted third party (such as Thawte) that verified the information appear in the bar.
    SSL EV Green Bar in Internet Explorer 7+ SSL EV Green Bar in Firefox 3+
  2. Many web sites post a trust mark or security seal on secured pages. Click the trust mark to view web site identification information, the third party (such as Thawte) that verified it, and the expiration date of the SSL certificate.
    What users see when they click the seal
    * Some SSL Certificates do not include organization or country because the information was not provided for verification. SSL Web Server Certificate with EV provides the most complete seal verification page.

  3. Without the green address bar or the security seal, you can still find certificate identification information, but it takes a bit more effort. In newer browsers, web site identification information may appear when you hover over the address bar. You can also click the closed padlock icon.
Trusting the Content on a Web Site

Security indicators show that a site has encryption, and SSL certificate information shows that identification information has been verified. Content on the web site, however, has not been verified. Thawte believes that knowing who provides the content helps you in your decision of whether or not to trust it. If you suspect a Thawte® Trusted Site Seal has been misused, please report it to: support@thawte.com.

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