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Chapter 26. Online Security Issues > Safely Exchanging Information on the Web - Pg. 241

Online Security Issues 241 Safely Exchanging Information on the Web Forms, such as the search forms used in Yahoo! or other search programs, enable you enter in- formation and receive feedback, order products, register your software, join clubs, and even play interactive games. The problem with entering any personal information (including credit card num- bers) on a form is that the information is not sent directly to the server where that information is used. Instead, the information bounces from one server to the next until it finds its destination. At any point in this little adventure, someone with the proper know-how can read the information. How often this happens, no one really knows--but it can happen, and that's the concern. Most Web browsers, including Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, have warning messages that pop up whenever you are about to submit information using an insecure form, so you can cancel the operation before sending sensitive information. If you're only submitting a search phrase, you can cancel the warning and go ahead with the operation. If you tire of these warning messages popping up on your screen and you don't enter any sensitive information, you can deactivate the warnings. In most browsers, the warning dialog box contains an option for preventing the warning from appearing again. Even if you deactivate the warning messages, you can determine whether you are using a secure form by doing the following: · If the Web page address starts with https instead of http, the site is secure. · In Internet Explorer, look at the right end of the status bar at the bottom of the window. If you see a padlock icon, the site is secure (see Figure 26.1).