Some companies just don’t get it. I am helping a friend purchase something on the Web, and the site is asking for personal, confidential information (name, password, email, credit card information, etc) on a non-secure page.
Are you kidding me? We read the privacy page, and they go on about how secure their system is, yet they are asking for personal credit card information over a non-secure connection.
I wonder how many people even notice these things.
As a consumer, never give away personal information from companies you do not know or trust, unless you are ready to take the risk of this information getting used or ‘misplaced’ without your knowing.
Also, never give this kind of information away unless you have a secure connection. How do you know you are running a secure connection? The first thing to look at is the address of the Web page. Normal (non-secure) Web pages start with http (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Secure connections start with https. The https means you are running over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL).
Also, your Web browser should display a ‘closed lock’ or a solid key (as opposed to no lock, an open lock, no key, a broken key, or whatever).
Now, technically, you could be on a secure page and not see these clues that you are reasonably safe. This is because some Web sites use ‘frames’ for their pages, which might prevent you from seeing these important security clues. This is their loss. As more and more people learn about safe online practices, Webmasters will have to become aware that just saying a site is safe is not going to convince everyone. They have to prove it.
Brand spoofing, phishing, keystroke loggers, and malware are taking their toll on consumer confidence. Real companies need to be aware of this, and take every effort to inform their users that they are legit.
I have little doubt that the major company I was trying to help my friend make a purchase from was legitimate, but I do think they doubt how savvy consumers are becoming. Otherwise, they would have taken the time to ensure their site looked, acted, and was secure.
This is not a complete list by any means, but here are a couple tips to keep consumer confidence off the top of my head:
- Take the time to inform people on what your security policies are. What steps do you take to ensure that information that is transmitted to you is secure (SSL). How do you protect the information once it is on your servers? What are your policies about using/sharing/selling that information? Make that information be easy to find and understand.
- Put up a FAQ on what SSL is, how it works, and other related content. The more information like that you have on your site, the more it shows customers you are open, honest, and informative. Discuss what cookies and other technologies are and how you use them.
- Let users easily contact you via email, a form, a forum, phone, fax, or whatever. If they have questions about if you are legit or not, hiding contact information is not going to ease their concerns.
- Give people control over their accounts. If you let people register for services, let them change their personal/account/contact information, and let them subscribe and unsubscribe at will. Let them delete their account, or at the very least, make it easy to request these changes (and of course, fulfill their requests in a timely fashion).