We’ve come to rely on SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) as our online guardian, protecting our data from criminals and prying eyes by wrapping it up in encrypted data packets. When a closed padlock appears in your browser and the URL in your address bar changes from http:// to https://, that means your data is being sent using SSL.

What is SSL and how does it work?

SSL is a form of public-key cryptography, where both your web browser and the site you’re visiting have a unique public and private key. When you visit a secure website (e.g. https://madecontact.com/), it tells your browser its SSL public key. The website’s key (unless “self-certified”) can be verified for authenticity by a “Certificate Authority” that your browser already knows and trusts.
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Last year, Interflora won a landmark court case against Marks & Spencer. M&S used Google AdWords to place adverts on search results for their competitor’s brand terms. The legal battle had much more at stake than lost e-commerce revenue and trademark infringement though. It highlighted an issue that has been prevalent since 23rd April 2013, when Google allowed anyone to place paid search listings on brand search results.

Security experts have recommended using Google to navigate to sensitive websites for years, helping to protect users from phishing sites hosted on typo domains and links from hacked third-party websites. Thanks to Google’s new revenue-boosting ad policy though, that top search result for your bank, online bookshop or government portal could be anyone.
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