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I've also noticed this on a few other financial related sites. There is a delay and an animated working indicator with a message to the effect of "Creating a Secure Connection."

I'm a web developer and manage some secure web sites and creating a secure connection is simply a matter of making sure the user is connecting over SSL and authenticating the user's credentials. Neither of these require making the user wait at a loading screen. Also, given that each request to a web page is usually authenticated individually, it doesn't make sense to have a delay like this at the front door that isn't repeated for each page request.

I suspect that they are just using this language to a) make me feel better about it being secure; and/or b) mask some other activity that happens at login that takes some time.

Does anyone here know what exactly is going on while it churns on this screen?

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Did you try running Fiddler or a packet sniffer? –  SLaks Feb 8 '11 at 13:06
    
I did not. I assumed something was happening server-side, but that is a good idea. –  JohnFx Feb 8 '11 at 15:45

3 Answers 3

It is definitely to make the user aware that the connection is secure. It is a feel-good thing. Using fiddler you can see the connection is already secure by the time you see the message.
Another tax website Taxslayer does the same thing.

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I would tend to agree with you.

I imagine that they have put the loading screen in to show "normal" users that they are indeed "creating a secure connection" and to put the users mind at rest. It is also possible that they could also be loading some large controls during this process.

I doubt you will really know what exactly happens unless someone from TurboTax posts the reasons why.

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My bank does the same thing and I've got a feeling they are just blowing smoke too. –  JohnFx Feb 8 '11 at 15:44
    
@JohnFx - Yes I would imagine quite a few sites do this. Personally, I think it is for piece of mind for the user more than anything else –  Barry Feb 8 '11 at 15:52

I've seen similar BS in AT&T's login form: after you submit your credentials, the interstitial page claims:

This may take a few moments, depending on your Internet connection speed.

This is, of course, bogus, because the page they return is relatively tiny.

So TurboTax, like AT&T, may simply hide some slow server-side operations.

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This isn't really an answer to the question I was asking. –  JohnFx Mar 9 '11 at 18:46

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