My computer occasionally tells me that you are about to leave a secure
internet connection. It would be possible for others to view information you
send. What does this mean.
Most of the time it’s an informational message that you can safely ignore.
However there are times that it’s critically important to know what it means,
and whether or not you should be doing something differently.
Someone could be eavesdropping.
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Depending on your network and how you’re connected to the internet, all
computers “close to” each other can actually “see” the network traffic of all
the others. For example you could be doing some on-line banking using one
computer in your home, but all the data traveling between your computer and
your bank could be viewed by another computer in your home. Other
computers typically don’t listen in, because it’s clear that the data
is destined for your computer and not another, but software exists that can
“Sniffing” software can monitor the data going to and from other computers
on the network. This kind of sniffing is particularly easy in WiFi hotspots.
When network traffic is wireless, any computer within range of the signal can
It’s kind of like being in a restaurant and listening to the conversation at
the table next to you. It’s not meant for you, but it’s very easy to eavesdrop
and listen in.
to the conversation at the table next to you.”
A “secure” internet connection is one where the data being sent back and
forth is encrypted. Only the machine it’s destined for knows how to decrypt and
read the information.
This is kind of like being back in that same restaurant and listening in,
only this time you can’t understand a word of what’s being said because they’re
speaking a completely different language. You can listen all you want, it just
won’t do you any good. Only the two people speaking to each other understand
their own language.
“https” connections are encrypted, secure internet connections. “http”
connections are not. “http” connections can be sniffed and understood; “https”
connections can also be sniffed but the data visible is unintelligible.
In some cases when you’re on a page that you visited using an “https”
connection, and you click a link that is going to go to a “http” connection,
your browser will warn you, and that’s the message you’re seeing. The issue is
that you’re leaving a secure connection (https) for an insecure one (http). If
the browser didn’t warn you it might be easy to miss the fact that this had
happened and think that you were browsing securely when you weren’t.
It’s not at all uncommon to transition from websites accessed by “https” to
those accessed with plain “http”. “https” is actually a tad slower, and not all
information needs to be transmitted securely. There’s no reason, for example,
to encrypt the contents of this page, and so there’s no
“https://ask-leo.com”. However sites that require security,
such as banking or other sensitive services, may be available only via
Linking from one to another is common. The warning is simply that, a
warning, so that you know just how secure you are.