Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Credit Card Applications: Is It Safe To Apply Online

Are you wanting to apply for a new credit card but feeling hesitant to perform the credit card application online? If so, you need not be concerned. Advances in the technology of secure e-commerce have made online credit card applications literally safer than filling out a paper application and mailing it through the US Postal Service. Here�s why.

SSL Technology

First, banking institutions that offer online credit card applications use the most up-to-date technology to ensure that their web sites are protected against intrusion and data theft. This technology is known as SSL, which stands for Secure Sockets Layer, a transmission protocol that �encrypts� any data sent between the bank and your computer, such as all the personal information you need to fill out when applying for a credit card.

Encryption


What exactly is encryption? It is a sophisticated mathematical process that disguises data by altering the bits of information in ways that are undecipherable to others. You have probably done encryption in your childhood days when you sent messages to friends in school using a secret language such as reversing the alphabet, so that A meant Z, and Z meant A. That early game was actually a form of encryption.

In the early days of the Internet, encryption used 40-bits, which meant that a character of data could be transformed into another character in any one of 2 to the 40th power ways, which is approximately 1 trillion ways. But as large as that number is, computer security experts realized that people, including criminals, who had access to very powerful computers could crack 40-bit encryption in a short period of time, ranging from a few days to a few seconds depending on the power of their computers.

Therefore, in the late 1990s, a much more powerful type of encryption was introduced using 128 bits. This means that each character of data can be altered in any of 2 to the 128th power ways, a code which represents an astronomical number of possible variations that would take on the order of 20,000 years to break using today�s fastest computers. The use of 128-bit encryption has thus completely altered the safety of data.

Two Encryption Keys Required

Furthermore, today�s encryption methods use what is called the �two-key� algorithm whereby the sending computer and the receiving computer use both a �public� key and a �private� key to encrypt and then decrypt any data exchanged between them. The process is complex to explain, but suffice it to say that the two-key approach makes it impossible for all intents and purposes for an outside party such as a criminal to capture and interpret any data transmitted between two computers over an Internet site using SSL technology � because the criminals will not have both keys.

Online Credit Card Applications - No Safer Method


In short, SSL technology virtually guarantees that if you fill out a credit card application over the Internet using a bank�s secure application page, all your personal information can never be stolen or broken into.

Compare this to a paper credit card application which you send via the US Post Office. Think about how many mailboxes are broken into each year and how many pieces of mail are somehow lost � and you will now realize that applying for a credit card over the Internet is actually the most secure method you can find.

So if you want or need a new credit card in order to expand your credit capabilities or to get bonus points or travel rewards, the best thing to do is to go to one of the web sites that allows you to compare credit card offers, then click through to the secure web site for the bank you choose to fill out their online credit card application. You will also benefit from this because your application will be processed within minutes and you can often get an immediate approval rather than waiting weeks as you do when you mail in a paper application.

All in all, rest assured that computer security experts are working hard to protect consumers from crime and identity theft as Internet banking, e-commerce, and credit card payments are increasingly processed online.

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