Q: Every once in awhile, I notice that there is a picture of a padlock at the bottom of Internet Explorer. What is this telling me?

A: If you do any online banking or purchase items on the Internet from time to time, it’s a sure thing that you’ve seen this lock pop up occasionally. Simply put, this lock is telling you that the site is doing its part to protect your information. Individuals with malicious intent will sometimes try to intercept your data while it’s being transmitted through the Internet. That small graphical icon assures you that the site does have an approved security certificate, and that your information is being encrypted before it’s shot out to the world. In order to find out more information about the security policy, just double click on the lock. Alternative browsers such as Firefox have a similar method of alerting you to secure sites, and as usual, they do a better job of it.

If you don’t see this lock when you make an online purchase or transmit any other sensitive data, it definitely wouldn’t be a bad idea to refer to the site’s privacy policy. Find out what they’re doing to keep your personal information private. If all else fails, try contacting the company directly before you purchase that airplane for US$29.95.

Have a question or subject that you would like to see covered? Drop Brandon a line and maybe he can include it in a future edition of the Gnewbie Gnook! Also, don’t forget our forums (or, if you’re a Latin freak, fora) where Gnomies from all around the world congregate to help, be helped, and discuss issues that may or may not have anything to do with technology!