Anthony J. Pennings, PhD

WRITINGS ON DIGITAL STRATEGIES, ICT ECONOMICS, AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS

How the Web Secures Your Data

Posted on | February 13, 2014 | No Comments

Central to facilitating the usefulness of net-centric communications and commerce is the set of protocols that secure private data. Information such as usernames and credit card numbers going through the Internet pass through many types of host routers, as well as your ISP — any of which can constitute a security threat. It is possible for unencrypted information to be monitored and stolen at many points along the route from sender to receiver. The following explanation of the most commonly used security system is abbreviated, but should provide a start for understanding how your data is protected on the Internet.

An initial solution that is still in use is the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol that was adopted by Netscape in the early days of the World Wide Web to protect sensitive data flowing over the Internet.

SSL starts with a “handshake”, an exchange of information that authenticates the server and sometimes the client (your computer). The process begins with the browser sending a HELLO message containing information about its security abilities and some random data that will be used later on. The server then determines which encryption methods will be utilized, based mostly on the SSL capabilities of the client’s browser, and sends it own HELLO message containing the details of the encryption method that will be used in the session. The encrypted data is then sent between the client and server.

If you are starting a website and need to provide secure transmissions, you can purchase an SSL certificate from a company like godaddy.com or another of the web services company that are SLL certificate authorities such as Symantec or highly rated DigiCert. DigiCert offers a number of different certificates and various seals that you can display to assure visitors to your site that you have properly secured the connection and are protecting their data.

Along with the HTTPS address prefix and icons like the padlock, we are now seeing changes to the address bar such as turning it green to indicate that increased SSL-based security measures are in place.

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Anthony J. Pennings, PhD recently joined the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University in Austin TX, after ten years on the faculty of New York University.

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    Professor and Associate Chair at State University of New York (SUNY) Korea. Recently taught at Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea. Moved to Austin, Texas in August 2012 to join the Digital Media Management program at St. Edwards University. Spent the previous decade on the faculty at New York University teaching and researching information systems, media economics, and strategic communications.

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