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How can I tell for sure if my connection is actually running in secure mode?

It's important that your personal information is secure. Two general ways to ensure that you are on a secure web page is (1) look at the address bar of the web page URL to begin with "https" and (2) look for the padlock icon in the status bar (not the Web page display area).

Web sites use certificates as part of a system for securing online information and transactions. Typing https:// as opposed to the standard http:// into the Web site address activates the certificate. (Your browser may display an alert that you are about to view pages over a secure connection.)

Once you are on a secure site, you can check the certificate by double-clicking the padlock icon, displayed on the status bar at the bottom of your browser. This displays the security certificate for the site.

Various browsers have different ways of indicating to the user whether security is in effect. Be aware that security is set on each Web page, so some pages within a Web site may be secure while others are not. If the page contains information that is considered to be sensitive, such as your password, account number or Social Security number, the page should be secure and all information encrypted.

Microsoft Internet Explorer:

If you are connected to a secure site and security is in effect, a little locked padlock icon will be visible on the bottom frame of your browser's window. If you cannot see it, go to the top menu bar, click on 'View' and be sure that 'Status Bar' is checked.

To get more detailed information on security in effect while connected to the secure site, on the top menu bar click on 'File', then click on 'Properties', then in the resulting pop-up window read the Protocol line. If secure, it will say "HyperText Transfer Protocol with Privacy." Click the Certificates button for even more details.

Google Chrome:

A secured site on Chrome will display a green padlock symbol just to the left of the "https" in the web address, which will also display in green.

Mozilla Firefox:

If you are connected to a secured site in Firefox, the address bar will display a padlock to the left of the "https" in the web address.

Any time a web page asks you for sensitive information, you need to be able to identify if the page is secure or not. The ability to recognize a secure Web connection is extremely important, especially as online fraud cases continue to rise.