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One Step Ahead
March 13, 2007, Volume 53, No. 25

One Step Ahead

Another tip in a series provided by the Offices of Information Systems & Computing and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Secure Web Browsing: Three Important Signs

The chances are good that you conduct sensitive transactions online. Whether you’re buying a book, submitting sensitive customer data at work, or doing online banking at home, the web is an essential part of doing business.  Here are three things to look for when transmitting sensitive data online:

1) Check for the “S”:  Look for https:// in the address bar of your web browser and a picture of a lock in one corner of your browser window when doing online transactions (credit card purchases, banking, submitting sensitive data, etc.).  These indicate that the session is encrypted. If you are doing an online transaction and the “https” and lock aren’t there, your data may be at risk.

2) Don’t ignore the signs:  When confronted with an error page or pop-up box that warns you of a problem, don’t be in such a hurry to skip it. More often than not, the error or caution message is letting you know about a legitimate problem.  Before you click “Ignore” or “Continue to this website,” stop and reconsider. Have you ever visited this site before?  Are you sure the site is what it claims to be?  Do you have to do this transaction immediately, or can you wait 24 hours and try again?

3)  A picture is worth a 1000 words:  Many financial institutions are putting more stringent authentication practices in place, including having a personalized image, phrase, or both displayed to a user at login.  If you have an account that uses this technique, be on the look out for it every time you log in.  If something changes, stop the transaction and contact the institution.


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website: www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.

Almanac - March 13, 2007, Volume 53, No. 25