A few ways exist to tell if the web page you are on is secure or not.
The easiest way to tell if a site is secure or not is to look at the bottom left hand corner of a web page. You will see a key. It will either be solid with a blue background or broken in half with a gray background. If the key is solid, you are on a secure web page. As a result, all information sent to this address is non-accessible by a third party. If the key is broken in half, anything you transmit to the web site can be accessed by a third party. This is important to remember when dealing with credit card numbers, account numbers and passwords.
A URL that starts with https: indicates the page is from a secure server. If you want to connect to a secure web page, make sure the address starts with https. Also, secure news servers begin with snews instead of just news.
Alerts pop up when you enter a new web site, letting you know whether you are about to enter a secure or insecure web site. You can change the preferences to tell you when the security status of a web site changes. You can do this in both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. Unfortunately for Microsoft fans, I only have instructions handy for Netscape:
To do this:
a)Entering a secure area:
Choose this feature to be told when you are entering a secure area. When you are in a secure area, you can send your credit card number over the Internet with little worry. Your number is protected from the time you send it to the time it reaches its destination. If you don't see this warning when entering a web site or page on the web site, it is not safe to send your credit card number.
b) Leaving a secure area:
Choose this option if you want to be warned you are leaving a secure area. It's important to know when you are no longer at a secure site and it is no longer safe to send personal information such as a credit card number over the Internet.
c)Viewing a document with a Secure/Insecure Mix:
Choose this option if you want Netscape to warn you when you are about to view a document with both secure and insecure information. If you are going to send your credit card number over the Internet, make sure the web page you are on is fully secure.
d) Submitting a form insecurely:
Choose this option to be warned when you are about to send information insecurely. If you send non-personal information over the Internet, security is not an issue. The key is to know when a site is secure and when it is not.
For further assistance with security issues while using Netscape Navigator click here.