What is SSL?
SSL protects your browser communications during transmission. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and is a set of rules followed by computers to include:
Encryption, which guards against eavesdropping
Data integrity, which assures that your communications aren't tampered with during transmission
Authentication, which verifies that the party actually receiving your information is who it claims to be.
Before your information is transmitted to a web site using SSL, it is encrypted - turned into a type of code. When the information reaches its destination, it is decrypted or decoded. Anyone who intercepts the information during transmission receives only “gibberish". The information transmitted back to you is encrypted as well.
How can I tell if a site is running SSL?
To check a site for SSL, look at the site's URL in your browser window. An "s" added to the familiar "http" (i.e. "https") indicates that SSL is in effect. In most browsers a small padlock symbol also appears in the lower right of the browser border indicating a secured site. Be aware of sites that display the padlock symbol within the browser window itself – these are usually fraudulent sites masquerading as secured sites. See Phishing