Here Are the Dangers of Surfing an Unsecured Site
The US got a little extra shaken up this year about encryption and security, especially after the FBI asked Apple to unlock someone’s phone and basically half the internet got taken down in October. The point of that attack wasn’t to steal our information, thank goodness, but the fact that it was so easy to take down so many big-name sites is pretty disturbing. We’d like to think that it would be a lot harder to take down something that has such a big hand in our digital world. Unfortunately, we often aren’t as secure as we think. But we can take certain steps to decrease the likelihood of getting our information stolen or other bad things happening. We’re going to focus on websites and explain what it is that keeps you safe on the web.
What makes a site secure?
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is one of the biggest things that keeps you safe on the internet. It creates a more secure connection when you visit websites. According to Technopedia, “A secure connection is a connection that is encrypted by one or more security protocols to ensure the security of data flowing between two or more nodes.” Whew. That sounds complicated, but basically it means that when you’re securely connected to a site, there’s a lot going on in the background to make sure your info is hidden from malevolent and prying eyes.
Here’s an analogy for you. Using a site with HTTP would be like telling your secrets to your friend where anyone could be eavesdropping. Using a site with HTTPS would be like whispering those secrets to your friend, but also using a secret language so that any would-be eavesdroppers don’t hear anything useful.
Peter Eckersley of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) built upon former senator Ted Stevens’ analogy that said the internet is like a bunch of tubes, saying, “If you use HTTP, those tubes are totally transparent. Anyone along the way can look inside and see exactly what you’re doing.” Use HTTPS, and “those tubes become opaque. Only people at the end can see what’s traveling through them.”
Here’s how HTTPS is saving your backside.
Why HTTPS Is So Important
1. HTTPS protects your numbers. HTTPS keeps your credit card info and passwords safe every time you enter them online. On a regular HTTP site, that data can be obtained, read and even changed by anyone between you and the site’s server — a hacker on the same cafe WiFi, your internet service provider (ISP) or the NSA. Eek!
2. HTTPS protects your browsing habits. Anything you read or do online that you don’t necessarily want your employer or ISP, etc. to know about is better protected when those sites use HTTPS. No one needs to know when you’re searching for a new job while you’re still employed or using WebMD to figure out what that rash could be. Awk.
3. HTTPS kicks impostors’ butts. HTTPS also gives us peace of mind by assuring us that a site with that little padlock in the address bar is who it says it is. In order to get that padlock, the site has to get a certificate that in theory can’t be faked. The certificate means that when your address bar says https://blahblah.com, you’re really on that site and no one else can see your info.
4. HTTPS ensures integrity. HTTPS prevents anyone on your local network from screwing with the data on a site on its way to you. Without HTTPS, someone (like the government, for example) can block parts of a webpage or even multiple pages on a domain. This could be a big problem, especially with the fake news problems we’ve been having lately, which is why it’s a good thing that many news sites now use HTTPS. Not using HTTPS on a site could let even more malicious things happen; someone could add just one line of code and compromise your whole computer. Scary, right?!
TL;DR: If you care about protecting your info online, make sure the sites you visit use HTTPS encryption. If you take nothing else away from this, remember that. Seriously. No one likes eavesdroppers.
Do you check to make sure sites you visit use HTTPS? What other precautions do you take? Tell us @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)
Getting the word out about your brand takes time, drive, and ingenuity. And it doesn't come easy for many entrepreneurs. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're chatting with Selfmade alum Taylor Morgan McPherson, founder of Sustainable Sparkle Bar, about ways in which she scored press as a solo startup brand and what she learned from Selfmade to take her brand marketing up a notch.
B + C: How did you know Sustainable Sparkle Bar was your business to start?
Glitter has always been my thing, so when I started my event company I decided to make it my niche. I started telling people I threw glitter-themed parties where people would get sparkled with glitter body art and makeup. Six months after that I applied to my first festival and to work with SUR restaurant in West Hollywood.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
I honestly can't say that I've had a specific strategy that I've followed when it comes to getting my business off the ground. I have a PR background so I was just constantly pitching new business and posting on social media.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
I would say creating a stable income and revenue stream. With a seasonal, event-based business it can be very up and down.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
The relationships I made and the push to start an email database.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I love what I do and I believe in myself 100%. Staying motivated isn't the hard part. Pushing myself to do the work and staying accountable is the hard part.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip? Do you use any apps that help you manage your business?
I keep multiple to-do lists, hand-written and digital. I also tell clients and partners that I will have something to them by a certain time or day so I have to stick to it.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Just do it, take the leap. And don't worry about what anyone else says to thinks.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Issa Rae, I'm so inspired by everything that she's created being a creative and a black woman. It's my dream to have my own show one day based on my life and where I give advice and talk about the world. She's doing it and making people laugh and giving people joy. And it's based in LA. Watching Insecure only further cemented my dreams of wanting to live in LA.
B + C: How did you hear about the Office Depot scholarship?
One of my friends that I met through Camp No Counselors saw an IG ad for it and nominated me.
B + C: What has receiving the scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start/grow your business?
It's completely helped me level up and take my business to another level. Selfmade helped me host my first virtual event and taught me how to set up my website to sell tickets to events and get RSVPs.
B + C: How have Office Depot services or products helped you accomplish more in your business?
I got new cards to send in all of my orders with my discount code on them. I also bought a really cool 4K camera that I now use for my social media.
Let Office Depot OfficeMax help you stand out in the crowd. From signs, posters & banners to promote your business, to marketing materials to keep your customers informed, Office Depot OfficeMax offers a full suite of business services & solutions to help you & your business get noticed.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.