Night Owl Cafe
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Security Issues on the Internet 


1. Is using my credit card on the internet really safe ?

2. What are your security arrangements ? 

3. What is SSL Secure Socket Layer ?

4. How do I check that I'm on a secure server ?

 1. No method of transaction is entirely safe, but yes, if you are careful to observe a few simple guidelines, 99% of the time it is. Most people who have doubts about shopping online are under the impression that there is a hacker waiting for their credit cards details to appear on his monitor. This is a misconception, and in fact the little credit card fraud that does happen on the net affect the seller rather than the buyer, through people submitting stolen credit cards. But don't just take our word for it -, the biggest bookstore on the net, say that "[we've had] 4.5 million customers who have safely shopped with us without credit card fraud."  In a Washington Post article, David Medine of the Federal Trade Commission suggested that it is much safer to transmit your credit card number over the Internet than to give it to a waiter at a restaurant or read it aloud over a cordless phone -- two activities that are generally taken for granted as safe. 

2. Our security arrangements are impeccable! When you click on a link to our secure server, the browser checks our identity using our Verisign or  Digital Certificate. Details from forms are immediately encrypted using SSL and sent to our servers. When account numbers and credit card details are authenticated, the details are again encrypted and sent to us via PGP secure email. If we keep your credit card details on file, they are kept secure in our offices, NOT on our servers or any machines with a direct connection to the internet. Account information is backed up daily. IP and dialup server addresses are recorded to help combat credit card fraud. Attempted fraudulent transactions are reported IMMEDIATELY to the authorities and the relevant dialup server administrators. 

3.  SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer. SSL is a standard developed by Netscape Communications to transfer information securely across the Internet. SSL enables your browser to connect to the web site and transparently negotiate a secure encrypted communication channel. Once this connection has been made, information, like credit card numbers, can be exchanged securely. A Knight-Ridder News Service article states, "In 1997, there were no reports of credit-card information stolen on the World Wide Web during a transfer of information over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) line, the kind of line used by Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer. There were no slip-ups. None." 

4.  In Netscape, you'll notice a little padlock on the status bar of your browser (down the bottom). When you are on a secure server, that padlock will be in the closed position. In Microsoft Internet Explorer, the padlock appears somewhere near the middle of the status bar when you are browsing securely. Other browsers will display this in different ways, however browsers are too numerous to be able to list the information for each one here. Another indicator that you are browsing securely will be the URL, or the address that appears in the Location bar of your browser. Ordinarily, an address will look somewhat like, but when you are browsing securely, you should see the first part change to https. HTTPS tells you that you are browsing a secure server.

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