InterNet Access Network ( )
Fri, 23 Apr 1999 08:39:46 -0400

>Free Internet Tip of the Day:
> The short answer is....(drum roll)...Yes. But keep
>reading, there are some very important things you should
>know about how the Internet works and who might or might
>not see your credit card number.
> First, the Internet is a like a giant shared network of
>computers. If you are in France and you are trying to
>retrieve a webpage (data) that is on a server in Los Angeles,
>your data may travel through 5 or 6 independently owned
>networks. Any of those networks of computers could intercept
>your data and examine it.
> So, how can it be safe to send your credit card number
>through the Internet if people can intercept it? The answer is
>encryption. Encryption is where a secret code is used to
>change your credit card number (and any other kind of data)
>into unreadable information (unreadable to people).
> Most websites that sell products or services over the
>Internet have what is called a "Secure Site" or "Secure Server".
>A secure server automatically encrypts your information for you.
>When you connect to a secure website, any information you send
>(name, address, credit card numbers, etc...) is encrypted.
> Let's use the example we cited above. Suppose you were in
>France and wanted to order an item from a website in Los
>Angeles. If the website in L.A. is a secure server, any
>information you send to them will be encrypted. That means
>that even though your credit card number may pass through
>a number of other Internet Access Providers, it will be
>encrypted to the point that nobody would even recognize it as
>a credit card number. Even if someone intercepted your data,
>it would be nearly impossible for them to decode your private
> The one thing you must pay very special attention to is
>that you only enter your private information in secure websites.
>Never send your credit card information through email or
>non-secure websites. When you send an email or enter data in
>a form on a non-secure website, it travels through the Internet
>as plain text. In other words, if somebody did try to intercept
>your information, they would immediately recognize it and
>realize that they were looking at a credit card number or your
>social security number, etc...
> Most web browsers (Internet Explorer or Navigator) will
>alert you when you are viewing a secure website. Netscape
>Navigator 4 displays a padlock in the bottom left corner and
>Internet Explorer 4 displays the lock in the bottom center.
> Let's try an example. Visit Kevin Hagen's site (he was
>the actor that played Doc Baker on Little House on the
> Notice that the website is not secure (your browser
>will not show you a locked padlock at the bottom).
> If you enter his secure order area (Where you can
>purchase autographed photos, CD's, etc...) your browser
>will show you the locked padlock at the bottom. This is
>to let you know that your data is now being encrypted.
> Although some people are still very fearful of sending
>their credit card (or other info) through the Internet, secure
>servers actually make it much more safe than using a credit
>card in the "real" world.
> In the "real" world you may give your credit card to a
>sales clerk or a waiter, either of which could steal your
>number. You may make a reservation at a motel over the
>phone, where the motel worker or any number of people could
>see the number.
> In short, as long as you take the proper precautions, it
>is safe to use your credit card over the Internet...probably
>as safe as using it anywhere else.
>Web Site of the Day:
>If you'd like to read more about using credit cards on the
>Internet, take a look at a newspaper article by Guy Kenyon.
>Today's Sponsor:
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>(C) 1999 Terragon Media.
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Dayton, OH