The purpose of this article is to discuss the alert message “Suspicious connection blocked”. This alert message originates from BitDefender’s Online Threat Prevention module, which is included in the free version. It has identified that one of your browsers has attempted to make a connection with a website that is not using encryption (SSL).
Are Unencrypted Websites Safe?
In general terms, unencrypted websites are safe to use, however it does mean the traffic between your PC and the website is not encrypted. That means that if someone else is trying to monitor your online activity through some tool, they could see the information you are exchanging with that website in plain text. With encryption, that text and information from the website is scrambled so that another computer user would not be able to decipher the encrypted information just by looking at it.
You should never exchange personal information or financial information, such as a credit card number with a website that is not encrypted. There are several hops between your computer and the destination website that your information travels over. If at any of these hops there were a malicious threat actor monitoring for sensitive information, they would have it.
Websites that are not encrypted with SSL (HTTPS) are also likely not to care about protecting your information once it is on their systems. You can logically deduce that if the “front door is not locked” (i.e. SSL), then likely the website is not doing anything to secure information once it is stored on their systems.
How Do I Tell if A Website is Using Encryption (SSL)?
You can tell fairly easily if a website is using SSL encryption. Simply look at your browser next to the URL and you should see a little symbol with a lock next to it. If that lock looks like the image below, then you can be sure the website is encrypted. If however, that lock has a line through it or is an image of a lock unlocked, then the website is not encrypted. You can click on the lock in your browser to learn more about its encryption position.
BitDefender – Suspicious Connection Blocked
If you feel like the website you are trying to visit is safe to exchange information with (i.e. you are only going there to read an article and not provide them any of your information) then you can an exception. An exception will allow you to visit the website and ignore the “Suspicious Connection Blocked” message. You should be aware though that once a website is added as an exception you will no longer get alerts. That means if you fill out a form or give them financial data sometime down the road and forget they don’t use encryption, you could be putting yourself in a very compromising situation.
Does a VPN Protect My Data from Unencrypted Websites?
VPNs are great for encrypting your traffic from your internet service provider and publicly accessible wireless networks. They do not protect your data from unencrypted websites, however. Your data is only encrypted from your computer to the VPN proxy server. If you share plain text information over the internet, your VPN protects it up until it reaches the VPN server. Then, it forwards that plain text on to its destination. If a website is not using SSL, then it does not establish a secure handshake from the VPN server to the website, and plain text information is delivered and unencrypted.