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http vs https : when is a login safe ?

Posted on 2014-07-30
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Last Modified: 2014-07-30
when I am on some site such as http://www.sample.com/, and there are 2 form fields, such as username and password on that site, and a SUBMIT button: is this login safe or unsafe ? After pressing SUBMIT, I come to a https site.
Same question, in other words: is the ssl protection active depending on the presence/absence of the https in the the starting site xor in the  destination site ?
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Question by:Sonja_M
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Dave Baldwin earned 363 total points
ID: 40230115
It's not the current page but the connection to the next page that is important.  The current page using 'http' has already been requested and received.  What you want to keep the form data secure is for the next request (from the form to the destination page) to be using 'https'.
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by:Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson earned 40 total points
ID: 40230122
If you're on a page hosted at http:// and you hit submit, that data will travel from your browser to that server unencrypted.  If that page is on https:// and you hit submit, the data is going to travel through an encrypted tunnel.  

Entering a username and password on http:// is not safe.  It can be subject to others who are watching the traffic.
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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 363 total points
ID: 40230144
Sean, that's Not The Way It Works.  It's the form 'action' URL that needs to be 'https', not the current page.  The current page is already done.  There is nothing that can read from it anymore.
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by:Gary
Gary earned 92 total points
ID: 40230150
Whilst login forms should really be on an HTTPS page to prevent any hacking Dave's comment is the correct one
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by:Gary
Gary earned 92 total points
ID: 40230183
Just to be clear - When I say hacking I mean of the unsecure form data being sent to the browser initially not hacking the posted data

p.s.
No points for this, was just to backup Dave's answer.
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by:Sean Jackson
Sean Jackson earned 40 total points
ID: 40230257
Dave, are you saying that the page is rendered in plaintext, and then if I hit submit, and the form action is GET or POST, when it connects back to the server, that's when the SSL handshake occurs?  Not when the authenticated user gets their privileged page?
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by:Gary
Gary earned 92 total points
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Thats correct.
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by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 40230402
No points.   I concur with Dave's original answer.
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by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 363 total points
ID: 40230404
Yes, that's what I'm saying.  It's fine if both pages are SSL / https like Gary suggested but the important page, the request with the info you want to protect, is the 'action' page in the form.  That's when the info needs to be secure.  When you're typing your info into the form, it has already been loaded into your browser.  It's when you submit the form, that you need it to be encrypted to prevent people from reading it.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Sonja_M
ID: 40230654
thank you all for your detailed and precise answers and interesting additional aspects
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