How to Know if a Shopping Site is Secure

2010 August 28
by J Storlie

If you haven’t jumped into online shopping yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Sure, you can’t try things on, but the mall isn’t going anywhere. If you’re the type who doesn’t enjoy braving the malls, or you know you won’t have much time to prepare for the holidays, then maybe it’s time to try shopping online. Here are a few tips for ensuring that the site you visit is secure.

One of the simplest things that you can do is check the address of the website you are on.  If it starts with an “http” then it is not a secure site.  If it starts with an “https”, then it is secure.  You can remember this easily, because the “s” stands for “secure.”  This type of security means that your data is encrypted and then sent through a secure server.  You may not see the https until you get to an order page, but it should be there.

Internet Security with https

Internet Security with https


Secure Shopping Online- things to look for

Secure Shopping Online- things to look for



Another thing to check for is a lock icon somewhere in the window of the browser.  They are not always located in the same place, but you should be able to find a lock icon, and it should look locked.  If the icon looks like an open lock, the site is not secure.   Here are a couple of examples of a secure, locked site (above).

An important note is that you can click on these locks and get information about the security of the website.  If you do not know where to find them on your browser, then make sure to go into the help files and explore some of your browser’s built-in security features.

You may also notice different icons when you are on websites.  If you see icons from Verisign, GeoTrust or SSL.com you know that the site you are on is a safe site.  They meet the security standards of the company issuing the certificate, and as a result, the vendor gives them a seal to put on their website.  Any website that meets these guidelines will display these, as it is an important feature for them to gain your trust.  Be aware that these seals can be easy to duplicate. When in doubt, click on it and you should be brought to a page on the Security Certificate site that verifies the company’s reputation

Example of Verisign Graphic

Example of Verisign Graphic


GeoTrust graphic

GeoTrust graphic

Sample SSL Certificate

Sample SSL Certificate

If you are still not sure about the website, but cannot get the item any other way, you will want to make sure that you use a credit card that’s insured, to make your purchases.  It is advisable to have one card just for Internet shopping, as it will make it easier to catch a fraudulent charge.

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