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All About Secure Order Forms...

The security of your financial transactions over the Internet is paramount, as online fraud and identity theft have become rampant, and result in huge financial losses to individuals and businesses. In the UK alone, 2008 losses totalled over $800 million - with over $75 million of those losses coming from the illegal manipulation of online banking systems. So how can individuals and businesses protect themselves when conducting financial business over the Internet? The first line of defence is to make sure that you use a secure order form for all online transactions.

Secure order forms are online forms that, when filled out and sent over the internet (for example, to an e-merchant), will safely encrypt your sensitive information such as your credit card number, social security number, billing address, etc. The easiest way for fraudsters to steal your information is to intercept that information as it flows over the Internet in an unsecured way, hence the need to use a secure order form. But what exactly is a secure order form, and how is it different from any other form found online?

The easiest way to tell the difference between a secure and non-secure order form online is to examine the interface of your web browser while you are viewing a form online (see an example secure order form). Looking in the status area of your web browser you should see an icon that looks like a closed padlock. (Note: different web browsers display this padlock in different places on the screen; use your browser's help system to find out where). Rolling your cursor over the padlock should produce a help tip that reads "Authenticated by [name of issuing security certificate company]" and double-clicking that icon should display a pop-up window that contains security information about the certificate being used for that particular secure order form. There will be an option on this window to view the details of this certificate, and clicking that will display the type of certificate, which company the certificate was issued to, and what company issued the certificate (along with a validity date and other less important information).

In most cases the certificate being using will be an SSL Server Certificate. SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer, and is an Internet protocol that allows for the secured encrypted flow of data between your browser and the website identified in the certificate. The encryption technology used here is complex, but simply put, if using a secure order form that has a valid SSL Server Certificate associated with the form, then your transaction can be considered safe from prying eyes.

So how much will this cost you? You need to purchase a SSL certificate, install it on your server (you need a dedicated IP address for that) and have a script written that will process your form and deliver the information securely. Or you can simply use a third party service like FormNut secure forms to handle all the work and just pay a small monthly fee.

You should check to make sure that you are using a secure online form whenever you are 1) shopping online, 2) entering sensitive information like passwords (for example, when you log into your email providers website), and 3) entering any other form of information that you want to keep private between yourself and the website that you dealing with, for example, any website that requires you to enter in your social security number or home phone number. Checking to make sure that you are using a secure order form for all sensitive transactions will go a long way in preventing you or your business from becoming an online crime statistic.


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