Is your online browsing safe? Is someone stealing your passwords while you log on to your account? You may be using a secure browser without realizing it. Every time you log in to a bank site or make a credit card purchase, your browser switches from HTTP to HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). A URL that has HTTPS means it is HTTP over SSL. SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, a global security standard. SSL is all about authentication and encryption. The first thing you will see when logging in to your bank account is a yellow padlock. This yellow SSL padlock means you have a secure link to your website. It also means that the website is a valid and legitimate organization. Once you've established a trusted connection, your data becomes encrypted. This trusted connection can be used on both private and public WIFI.
Whenever you're using a public WIFI at McDonalds or Burger King, you want to use an SSL connection especially when entering a username and password. Free Wi-Fi connections are vulnerable to Man-In-The-Middle attacks which allow a hacker to intrude to your connection and inject false information. SSL can now be enabled by most popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Although SSL insures that your traffic is authenticated and encrypted; hackers can use this technology, as well. People with criminal intentions can communicate using SSL in order to avoid the internet security infrastructure. For example, a large bank had an employee that was leaking the source code of their automatic trading, that he sent out over an SSL session to a Web server in Germany. Another example is malware that travels through SSL and can invite users to browse their sites through social network mechanisms.
Encrypted Internet browsing is a great tool that ensures privacy by providing authentication and encryption. However, this same secured network is causing a weakness to our nation's security infrastructure. It will become tougher in the upcoming years for our government and organizations to monitor outgoing traffic due to SSL. Encrypted Internet is a great tool for protecting online banking, shopping, and social network users but there are potential risks for private citizens and the country as a whole.