Since your NetID and password are the key to a number of electronic services, it's important that you safeguard them and keep them private. It's also important that you understand how to establish the validity of the site that's prompting you for them.
The University makes a concerted effort to insure that applications make appropriate use of authentication data. You can also take steps to insure that the site you're exchanging information with is a trustworthy one.
When you access UW-Madison's legitimate NetID Login page, you will see your browser's address bar turn green (exact appearance will vary depending on browser).
The green highlighting in the browser's address bar is due to the Extended Validation certificate UW-Madison obtained for login.wisc.edu. Extended Validation certificates are only granted after extensive verification of the requesting organization's identity by the certificate authority. The Extended Validation certificate is your assurance that you're accessing the correct site and not a close copy created by someone trying to obtain your NetID and password.
Most browsers provide a way to verify information in the digital certificate passed back to your browser. IE and Mozilla both let you double-click on the closed padlock icon.
To be extra certain, you can check the site's certificate information. If the certificate in your browser does not match the information in the screenshot below, please do not log in. Immediately contact the Help Desk to initiate a case with DoIT Security.
Whenever you are referred to login.wisc.edu for authentication, your browser should be communicating over SSL, which encrypts the data being transmitted. Most browsers display an indication that traffic to and from the site is encrypted.
In Internet Explorer, this is a closed padlock in the lower right corner:
In Firefox, the left side of the address field displays a closed padlock:
In Safari, the closed padlock is in the upper right corner of the browser window:
In Chrome, the padlock appears at the left side of the address field: