What are Website Security Certificates?

Author Vanessa Reynolds on February 3, 2014 | Print | Bookmark

When an organization has a secure website that uses encryption it has to obtain a site, or host, certificate. If a website has a valid certificate, it means the certificate authority has taken steps to verify that the web address belongs to that organization.

If a site uses encryption you may see a closed padlock in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. You may also see "https:" rather than "http:" in the URL.

When visiting a secure website, a user may be presented with an error page or a dialog box as in the examples below indicating there's an error with the site certificate.

This may happen if:

- The name the certificate is registered to does not match the website name

- You have chosen not to trust the company who issued the certificate (as in the dialog box)

- The certificate has expired (as in the error page)

You will usually be asked if you want to look at the certificate and given the choice to:

- Accept the certificate forever

- Accept it only for that particular visit

- Choose not to accept it

If you are unsure whether the certificate is valid, or if you are worried about the security of the site, do not submit personal information.

Even if the information is encrypted, make sure to read the organization's privacy policy first so that you know what is being done with that information.

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Category: How do I????, Alerts and Known Issues

Last updated on February 3, 2014 with 2832 views