What makes transactions on e-commerce sites secure? Most merchants lease software to utilize secure sockets layer (SSL) created by Netscape. This technology safeguards information sent over the Web from the consumer's computer to your server.

SSL scrambles and encodes all confidential information so no third party can steal it. You end up with the actual message, unscrambled. As a merchant, you have a security certificate that's valid for a certain time period.

There are several ways to let your customers know they're on a secure e-commerce site:

  • A window opening on their browser saying, "You're about to enter a secure area"
  • A tiny padlock graphic on the bottom left corner of their browser that's unlocked as they visit unsecured sites on the Web and locks when they access a secure site
  • A broken gold key that becomes a solid key at a secure Web site

Don't diminish the power of clearly and prominently stating that your Web site is secure. If you're going to invest the money for security, let your customers know about it.

Aliza Sherman is an entrepreneur and author of Cybergrrl: A Woman's Guide to the World Wide Web (Ballantine Books). She is currently working on her next book and new company.