Secure Online Purchases What Is Encryption

Most legitimate websites favor the encryption of data to protect consumers’ personal information when they’re shopping online. Data encryption technology ensures data security by scrambling the information sent from your computer to the website. The only people who can unscramble your information are those with the encryption key.

What is Encryption?

The use of codes for encryption has been around for millennia to prevent people from reading the contents of a document or message. Prior to the Second World War, however, experts could break a code with nothing but a pen and paper and a bit of time.

Modern codes are much more complex. Many commercial websites use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) software to ensure data security. When you shop online, you have to submit personal information such as your name, address, phone number and credit card information in order to complete a transaction. The SSL encryption scrambles this information so no one can grab it en route.

Encryption of Data: Levels in Use Today

Many commercial websites have greatly increased the level of data encryption to 128-bit encryption, up from the 40-bit or 64-bit encryption that was once the standard. With 1038 possible keys, 128-bit encryption is considered unbreakable. In fact, experts estimate that today’s computers would take a minimum of a quintillion years to break this level of data encryption.

Protecting Your Data Security When Buying Online

When you’re ready to make a purchase online with your credit card, be sure that your personal data is protected by a data security system. You can quickly verify this by simply looking at the URL address for an “s” right after the “http”. The “https” indicates that the website is secure and does use encrypting technology.

Your web browser automatically encrypts text when it connects to one of these secure servers, and the server decrypts the text as it arrives. Keep in mind that the checkout page, or any other page with personal information, may be the only page with this secure data encryption feature.

Encryption of data scrambles your personal information as it travels from your computer to the intended website, so anyone trying to steal that information would encounter unreadable text. Even so, knowing how a website stores your personal information is important. Check out the merchant’s privacy and security policies to see how they protect your stored information from theft and misuse.