How do I tell if my connection to a website is secure?

Revision Information
  • Revision id: 14350
  • Created:
  • Creator: Chris_Ilias
  • Comment: add padlock lock keywords
  • Reviewed: Yes
  • Reviewed:
  • Reviewed by: Chris_Ilias
  • Is approved? Yes
  • Is current revision? No
  • Ready for localization: No
Revision Source
Revision Content

The Site Identity Button is a Firefox security feature that gives you more information about the sites you visit. Using the Site Identity Button, you can find out if the website you are viewing is encrypted, if it is verified, who owns the website, and who verified it. This should help you avoid malicious websites that are trying to get you to provide important information.

The Site Identity Button is in the Location bar to the left of the web address.


siteidbutton-location.png

Identity Button Win1 Identity Button Mac1 Identity Button Lin1

When viewing a website, the Site Identity Button will display in one of three colors - gray, blue, or green. Clicking on the Site Identity Button will display security information about the website, with a matching gray, blue, or green "Passport Officer" icon.
siteidbutton-larries.png



Gray - No identity information

siteidbutton-larry-gray.png When the Site Identity button is gray, that indicates that the site doesn't provide any identity information at all. Also, the connection between Firefox and the server is either unencrypted or only partially encrypted, and should not be considered safe against possible eavesdroppers.

Most websites will have the gray button, because they don't involve passing sensitive information back and forth and do not really need to have verified identities or encrypted connections. For sites that don't require any personal information, a lack of identity information is fine.

Note: If you are sending any sort of sensitive information (bank information, credit card data, Social Security Numbers, etc.) the Site Identity Button should not be gray.

siteidbutton-grey2.png

Identity Button Win2 Identity Button Mac2 Identity Button Lin2


Blue - Basic identity information

siteidbutton-larry-blue.png When the Site Identity button is blue, that indicates that the site's domain has been verified, and the connection between Firefox and the server is encrypted and therefore protected against eavesdroppers.

When a domain has been verified, it means that the people who are running the site have bought a certificate proving that they own the domain and it is not being spoofed. For example, the TD Canada Trust website has this sort of certificate and an encrypted connection, so the Site Identity Button displays as blue. When you click on the Site Identity Button, it tells you that the easyweb.tdcanadatrust.com site is verified to be part of tdcanadatrust.com, as certified by RSA Data Security Inc.When you click on the Site Identity Button, it tells you that the easywebcpo.td.com site is verified to be part of td.com, as certified by VeriSign Inc. It also assures you that the connection is encrypted so no one can eavesdrop on the connection and steal your bank login information that way.

siteidbutton-blue.png

Identity Button Win3 Identity Button Mac3 Identity Button Lin3

However, it is not verified who actually owns the domain in question. There is no guarantee that tdcanadatrust.com is actually owned by the Toronto Dominion Bank.There is no guarantee that td.com is actually owned by the Toronto Dominion Bank. The only things that are guaranteed is that the domain is a valid domain, and that the connection to it is encrypted.

If you are still leery about a site's identity when the Site Identity Button is blue, you can see more information about the site by clicking the More Information... button on the Site Identification dialog. This will open the Security panel of the Page Info window - View technical details about the page you are on, where you can view the site's identity certificate, see if you've visited the site before, and if you have any cookies or passwords stored for the site.


Green - Complete identity information

siteidbutton-larry-green.png When the Site Identity button is green, that indicates that the site provides fully verified identity information about its owner, and that the connection is encrypted.

If a site makes the Site Identity Button turn green, it means that it is using a new Extended Validation (EV) certificate. An EV certificate is a special type of site certificate that requires a significantly more rigorous identity verification process than other types of certificates. While the blue Site Identity Button indicates that a site uses a secure connection, the green Site Identity Button indicates that the connection is secure and that the owners of the domain are who you would expect them to be.

With the EV certificate, the Site Identity Button assures you that paypal.com is owned by Paypal Inc., for example. Not only does the Site Identity Button turn green on the Paypal site, it also expands and displays the name of the owner in the button itself. The Site Identification dialog contains further information.

siteidbutton-green.png

Identity Button Win4 Identity Button Mac4 Identity Button Lin4




Based on information from dria.org » Blog Archive » Firefox 3: Site Identification button