Are Secure Forms That Important?

According to Wikipedia, web forms "resemble paper forms because INTERNET users fill out the forms using check boxes, radio buttons, or text fields." In a way, a web form is an upgraded paper form: it has the same usefulness as a standard paper form, but a couple of extra advantages like limitless writing area and instant online delivery. All those surveys, questionnaires and other data gathering actions are now done through online forms.

A big step for web form evolution was taken when various goods and products began to be sold online. That was the moment a new type of web form was born: order forms. Buyer fills an online web form with his credit card data, selects the items he wants to buy and clicks a button. Everything is done in a couple of minutes sitting in front of a PC.

But soon enough, a new problem interfered: someone with the right knowledge could intercept the data exchange between the order form and the processing script. To fix this problem, there was a need for tighter security. It was the moment secure forms entered the scene. Heavily encrypted with 128 or even 256 bit encryption, secure forms became a standard when it came to order forms and other types of online web forms that handled sensitive data.

There are a couple of ways to enhance a basic web form into a secure form, but the most common are protecting it with a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate and using a Captcha. SSL certificates are unique for each domain and are sold by industry authorities like VeriSign, Thawte, eTrust, and DigiCert. They are time limited and each web form protected will display in browser a specific visual identification.

Captcha is an image that includes a random sequence of numbers and letters. Users are required to enter this sequence in order to fill the secure contact form. This represents an extra level of protection against automatic spiders that attempt to submit the online form.

If you are a webmaster and you want to include secure forms on your website, you can do it in 2 ways. The first one would be to buy a SSL certificate and install it on your server. It requires a couple of hours and some degree of technical experience. Usually, you can do this directly from your server's Cpanel if you choose a bigger hosting company. The second and easier way is to search and use a third party service that will allow you to design and import a secure order form. Those services are extremely user friendly and you don't need technical experience beside how to modify a page from your website.

No matter what way you go, it's important to secure your web forms.

Source by Ted Peterson