Q

Encrypting Web forms

I've been trying for some time to find an "easy" way to secure e-mail transactions generated out of Web forms. I've asked several friends in the industry, but no one seems to have tackled this question yet. When I have a Web form that has personal information gathered (such as phone numbers and such), I would like it to come across the Internet encrypted. Any suggestions?


You write "e-mail transactions." If your browsers e-mail client (or whatever is your default) pops up, you can encrypt that with PGP or S/MIME (I've written on the subject -- see my Web page and see searchSecurity). I suspect you don't mean this but, rather, a Web form transaction.

Most Web forms that gather information should use SSL (encryption) to transmit the data. If they do not, don't use them. You are really at the mercy of the server to which you are connected, as it has to support SSL for that particular page/form. If the server does not support SSL for that form, complain. (I assume you know this, but for others who might also be reading this -- if the little lock symbol is showing and looks "locked," it will be sent encrypted.)

The bigger worry, by the way, is how well the information is protected once it gets there. See my column on this topic.


For more information on this topic, check out these resources:
Best Web Links: Encryption
Best Web Links: Securing the Internet and E-commerce
Web Security Tip: E-business security basics
Executive Security Briefing: Public Key Cryptography: Q&As from your peers


This was first published in December 2001

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