Why is there a padlock icon next to my website URL?
The padlock icon, which is usually green or grey, shows that the page you are visiting is secure. But what does secure mean? Just because the padlock is present does not always indicate that the site is safe for entering personal information or financial details. All it really means is that the site is using HTTPS instead of the less secure HTTP. The graphic below demonstrates the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
While the padlock does indicate that the site is encrypting the traffic going in and out, this does not mean that all sites with the padlock are safe. Without getting overly technical, it is not difficult for a cybercriminal to purchase and install the certificate necessary to “secure” a site. By obtaining this certificate, the criminal’s website appears secure, making it more difficult to spot the scam.
The padlock should be used as a first step in validating the safety of the site. You should always double check the URL. Amazon.com and Amazn.com could both have the padlock, but the one that is misspelled is likely part of a scam to steal personal information.
So, while the padlock icon does not guarantee that the site you are on is safe, the lack of a padlock should be an indicator to not enter any personal details or payment information.