Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Case for Secure Browsing

Most of the time when going to a website, people will just type the address like so, 'amazon.com', without any concern for the http://www. portion of the address, unless you happen to be really old or unfamiliar with computers. Occasionally people might recognize the www. portion, but the http:\\ goes entirely ignored by most internet users. To many it may just seem like an old appendage that is fairly useless, and in most cases this may be entirely true. But it has a purpose.

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is the networking protocol that forms the foundation of data communications for the Interwebs. Its used to load up whatever webpage you want to view, whether you are aware of it or not. All very good stuff to know, makes you a little bit more web savvy.

Now that you know that, there is another way to call up a webpage called HTTPS. It stands for the same thing except with Secure at the end. HTTPS is a combo of of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol with the SSL/TLS protocol to provide encrypted communication and secure identification of a network web server. Protecting you and your private information from people who could steal with tools such as Firesheep.

Most banks have HTTPS support by default, and sites like Facebook and Google have been enabling support for browsing their sites with encryption. Facebook has been most recent and you can enable it by visiting your Account Settings page, selecting Account Security (it's the third option from the bottom), and you'll find a checkbox to enable HTTPS under the Secure Browsing header. That's it, pretty easy, and you can be sure your data is encrypted as if flows through the intertubes.

If you are browsing elsewhere on the web however, it can often be a bit annoying accessing HTTPS. Usually you have to manually type it into the address bar to send an encrypted request. And then will return to the default HTTP on another page. But, lo, there are great people out there who thinks doing that sucks. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the TOR project have collaborated on the the HTTPS Everywhere Firefox extension. It provides default HTTPS encryption for a number of sites and is customizable, and if a site you frequent isn't already in the HTTPS Everywhere rules, they provide a tutorial on adding it to the rules.

So go forth my friends and browse the web safely and securely!


25 comments:

Siphil said...

I remember learning all this in college. It's good information to have.

Lost.in.Idaho said...

Anything people can do to be more secure, they should be attempting to do. If you don't know a lot about internet safety and you're reading this blog, PAY ATTENTION!

mmmpieohyeah said...

useful, sometimes I do that, now I know I won't

obi said...

this is very helpful stuff, thx.

Stock Investing and Trading said...

nice overview and introduction.. very easy to understand ^^ i'll be sure try to be safer next time!

http://skybluetrading.blogspot.com/

I'm Ben said...

i ONLY patrol the web safely ;D

Because I Make Sense said...

TOR is interesting...I'm looking into it more. Definitely something good to play with. The internet should stay anonymous!

Aaron M. Gipson said...

Man, you are right on the money... Listen closely folks! Cover your @ss... Don't trick yourselves into thinking "Big Brother" isn't looking...

iGod said...

i use TOR

Every Day said...

this wil;l be helpful. thanks.

PekkaK said...

I'm glad they have HTTPS now on Facebook too.

Buckaroopopcorn said...

great tip!

metalpark_73189 said...

Thanks, I had no idea about this :)

amber said...

That's very useful, thanks!

seamagpie said...

I didnt know how many people disregarded the http part

Meghan Moran said...

Good Stuff. The more you know ::cue rainbow::

UncommissionedArt said...

I remember thinking you HAD to spell out all that stuff.

AnthropoSeptic said...

Didn't know about the extension. Too bad there isn't one for Chrome.

Choms1337 said...

HTTPS I use when I want to connect with my router :P

Astronomy Pirate said...

I think there are analogous Chrome extensions, you might have to look around for them though.

tcrosso said...

Nice info, should be a lot safer now

Kim Anders said...

i think i'll use TO from now on.
i'm gonna test it, and if it doesnt work, you'll help me? :D

Astronomy Pirate said...

Not really that familiar with TOR, there are probably better sources out there.

LiveTheBoss said...

TOR is terrific, as is HTTPS Everywhere for FireFox. If you're reading this site, you should probably use TOR.

ZomgZombies17 said...

Love your blog man, followed.

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