Online Purchasing vs Offline Purchasing
Well first off let me explain “offline”.
Since were talking in terms of computers, the term “online” and
“offline” are used instead of saying at the store, gas pumps, etc.
Online is a simple term used to indicate a state of connectivity.
When you are connected or browsing the internet, you are “online”.
Offline refers to a state of being disconnected from the internet.
One of the biggest questions asked in the
world of computing is shopping online. Let’s face it, every year
millions of people shop online especially during the Christmas holiday
season. Shopping online gives so many great features like having
the items shipped right to your door, shop any time of day from the
comfort of your home, and the greatest of all, no sales staff pestering
you! I personally do 95 to 99 percent of my holiday shopping
online. But how secure it? Why is identify theft so high?
Have you ever noticed while browsing the internet, in the address
bar you see the http:// or https://. If you really want to know if
your connection is secure, this is where to look. If you are
purchasing something online, make sure while your checking out, that
each page you encounter begins with https. What is the
major differences. Well there is a lot. Let’s begin to
HTTP stands for HyperText
Transfer Protocol, which is just a fancy way of saying it's a
protocol (a language, in a manner of speaking) for information to be
passed back and forth between web servers and clients.
don't need to know what it all stands for; the important thing is the
letter S which makes the difference between HTTP and HTTPS. The
S (big surprise) stands for "Secure". You probably didn't need me
to tell you that, because you already knew it had something to do with
If you visit a website or webpage, and look at the
address in the web browser, it will likely begin with the following:
http://. This means that the website is talking to your browser
using the regular 'unsecure' language. In other words, it is possible
for someone to "eavesdrop" on your computer's conversation with the
website. If you fill out a form on the website, someone might see the
information you send to that site.
This is why you never ever
ever enter your credit card number in an http website!
But if the web address begins with https://, that basically
means your computer is talking to the website in a secure code that no
one can eavesdrop on.
You understand why this is so important,
right? If a website ever asks you to enter your credit card
information, you should automatically look to see if the web
address begins with https://. If it doesn't, there's no
way you're going to enter sensitive information like a credit card
It should be pointed out that just because a website has
that magic "S" in its address, that does not mean it is wise to
do business with them; even scam artists can have https sites! It simply
means that no outsiders can eavesdrop on your conversation...doesn't
mean you should be having the conversation in the first place. Only do
business with reputable firms, or firms you have thoroughly checked out!
Restaurants, Gas Pumps, Retail
Being that we discussed the major
differences between http and https and how the encryption works from
your browser to the server, let’s sit back and think about how
restaurants, gas pumps, and retail stores work. When we swipe or
card at the gas pump, how do we know it’s secure? We don’t.
Trust me, it has happened around this area that credit card numbers are
stolen from using at gas pumps. Remember https and how its
encrypted where an “eavesdropper” can’t see what is being
transmitted? Well gas pumps, restaurants, and retail stores can’t
say they have encryption on their connections. Someone can easily
“eavesdrop” on that connection or hack their databases and retrieve your
credit card number.
Let’s go in another direction. You
and your family go to a nice dinner. The waiter or waitress brings
your check. You hand them your credit card and they go off and
return a few minutes later waiting for your signature. You and
your family leave all happy and full. Let’s break this down.
Image yourself as this waiter or waitress. A customer hands their
credit card for you to swipe or enter. With no one is site you
either copy or write down this customers card number, CSV number, and
expiration date. You return the customers card and slip for their
signature. Customers signs then leaves. You now have
everything you need including the signature to begin credit card theft.
Never thought this could happen? You just don’t know what happens
when that waiter or waitress leaves with you card.
So as long as the site I am on has the
https I’m secure and safe…
Well, for the most part
yes. But there is other potential factors to think about too.
Spyware and Viruses. The biggest thing to be careful about are
programs called “keyloggers”. What the program does is logs
every single key stroke made on the keyboard, then sends this
information to a central server or workstation. You can be
connected to a secure server while shopping online, but a hidden
keylogger installed on your machine by a virus or spyware is tracking
every keystroke you make, including your credit card number. That
is why it is very important to get a up-to-date Antivirus and get a paid
version. In my other article “Which Antivirus to Purchase”
discusses free vs. paid antiviruses and which antivirus is better.
This year old question is “Safer to
purchase online and offline?” Many exports think: YES. In my
opinion, their right. Why is identify theft so high. It’s because
of people like you and me. Normal people working at jobs that
require credit card interaction. Human to human transfer of credit
cards, giving the humans an opportunity to get your numbers and all it
takes a few seconds.