Non Encryption websites and Amtrak.com

 
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Hello,

I am seeking the wisdom and experience from members here who are more learned than me;

I am wanting to book train tickets through Amtrak.com for an upcoming trip to America.
The current online booking process is 5 steps (webpages/screens) long.
(step 1-select desired train, 2-add ons, 3-traveler info, 4-payment, 5-confirmation)

Throughout these steps and for every other webpage I visit through Amtrak.com, my web browser's address bar show the 'lock' icon representing that the particular webpage has a secure, encrypted connection.

During the booking process, I reach the 'payment' section/screen.
For this webpage, the 'lock' icon changes to show that the page is not a secure connection.

Upon investigating the issue by looking through the 'site information', the certificate is listed as valid and the web address still starts with https://

The issue seems to be that this particular webpage does not have encryption (or at least is not fully encrypted?)

This non-secure connection occurs on all 4 different web browsers I have tried.
I have also used 3 different computers - all with the same result.


My questions are:
1) Being a railway forum I would like to think that some members here have purchased Amtrak tickets online in the past. What was your experience like with regards to the booking process?

2) I would think Amtrak is aware of this 'issue'. Is having a non encrypted webpage a deliberate move?

3) Is ok to provide my credit card details on this 'not fully secure' webpage to make my booking, or that not advisable?

4) Generally speaking, are non encrypted websites safe to browse or should they be avoided at all times?

I will be ringing Amtrak directly to speak with them about this matter, however I thought I would ask here first in the hope of becoming a little more educated prior to making the phone call.

I believe there is the option of booking Amtrak tickets via their App.
I will consider this option, however as a troglodyte I am a little skeptical putting my credit card details into a mobile phone to make purchases. Perhaps I need to "get with the times".



Thank you,
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  justapassenger Minister for Railways

1) Being a railway forum I would like to think that some members here have purchased Amtrak tickets online in the past. What was your experience like with regards to the booking process?

2) I would think Amtrak is aware of this 'issue'. Is having a non encrypted webpage a deliberate move?

3) Is ok to provide my credit card details on this 'not fully secure' webpage to make my booking, or that not advisable?

4) Generally speaking, are non encrypted websites safe to browse or should they be avoided at all times?
Ads
1. No experience, can't comment.

2. I would hope it is not deliberate, to have a non-secure payment page is a major problem.

3. Absolutely not. Do not enter any personal data on a non-secure page.

4. Yes you can safely view non-secure sites, but don't enter personal data. If you need to enter data on a non-secure page (e.g. to subscribe to an email newsletter) then you should use an anonymised email address.

Your proposed action of calling them to ask is probably a prudent move. They may be able to take your payment over the phone.

I believe there is the option of booking Amtrak tickets via their App.
I will consider this option, however as a troglodyte I am a little skeptical putting my credit card details into a mobile phone to make purchases. Perhaps I need to "get with the times".
Ads
Most apps like this are little more than a reworked version of a company's
website, and are likely to be only as secure as the website.

Given the demonstrable security problem with the Amtrak website, I would advise you avoid using the app.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
^
justapassenger - Thanks very much for your reply. Your responses confirm my original beliefs, so I will certainly heed your advice.

I made the phone call to Amtrak and was put through to their IT helpdesk.
After describing my scenario the staff member suggested that the fact the web address was still showing as 'https' means the webpage should still be secure.

They then tried making a dummy booking from their end and didn't seem to have any issue with the webpage loading as a secure connection.
They ended the call by proposing that it may be a regional issue given that I was making this booking from outside of North America and that they would pass on this info to the website's web development team.


Has anyone else had luck getting through the payment stage of the online booking process, or is the problem only at my end?
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: Lurking
I suspect that when the support people tried a dummy booking that it was all within their firewall, so such issues would probably not display. I tried it on Edge and Firefox and got the same security warning. Mind you, those warnings also apply to some RP pages!!!!

You can go ahead and pay for the ticket, the risk is yours - just watch your card balance online and ring your bank if you see any suspicious transactions. If you are travelling overseas its always wise to have at least two Credit Cards (or Debit Cards) in case a computer takes a dislike to one.
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I suspect that when the support people tried a dummy booking that it was all within their firewall, so such issues would probably not display. I tried it on Edge and Firefox and got the same security warning. Mind you, those warnings also apply to some RP pages!!!!

You can go ahead and pay for the ticket, the risk is yours - just watch your card balance online and ring your bank if you see any suspicious transactions. If you are travelling overseas its always wise to have at least two Credit Cards (or Debit Cards) in case a computer takes a dislike to one.
mikesyd
Thank you for your advice mikesyd and confirmation that it is not just me getting the security warning.

I've tried booking online again tonight and still no improvements.
The fares I am looking at are currently on sale, so I probably shouldn't wait another 24 hours and will need to make my reservations over the phone.
A bit annoying as I have 5 separate trips to book so it won't be a quick phone call.


Cheers.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
The fares I am looking at are currently on sale, so I probably shouldn't wait another 24 hours and will need to make my reservations over the phone.
A bit annoying as I have 5 separate trips to book so it won't be a quick phone call.
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Have your travel agent make the bookings for you, theoretically they should be able to get a better deal anyway!
  Ads Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
Have your travel agent make the bookings for you, theoretically they should be able to get a better deal anyway!
Graham4405
Yes, that is another option too I suppose. Thank you.
  Aaron The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Travel agents get a better deal for themselves not for you.
  Graham4405 The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Dalby Qld
Travel agents get a better deal for themselves not for you.
Aaron
Of course they have to make money, but that doesn't mean that a good travel agent can't get you a better deal than you can get yourself. It's called buying power.

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