Get Ready to Switch to HTTPS — Or Lose Your Website Visitors
Google is taking another step to create a safer Internet for all of us. The tech giant will mark websites that do not use HTTPS as not secure in its Chrome Browser. Chrome’s security product manager Emily Schechter said this in a recent blog post by the company. Before the changes go into effect in July this year — let’s have a look at the story behind this move.
What’s wrong with HTTP?
The HTTP protocol did wonders for Internet users for a long time. It allowed people to reach websites and browse the Internet, but now it’s time to say goodbye. The Internet changed throughout the years and HTTP is no longer a secure way to be online. If you make a connection to a website with the HTTP protocol, that connection is open for anyone to eavesdrop. Someone with bad intentions can steal or manipulate the data that passes between the website and its visitor. Not a big problem when you transmit simple data — but with passwords or payment information that is too big a risk.
That is why we now have HTTPS: a more secure version of the old protocol. When you make a connection to a website with HTTPS, the processed data is encrypted. The protocol does this via a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate that can be recognized by the padlock in your browser and its green color. A secure HTTPS connection is more difficult to access for people who hope to do some damage. In addition, HTTPS is also much faster than its predecessor.
Why switch now?
The announcement that sites without HTTPS are deemed not secure after July may seem sudden, but for those with an interest in website security it was a long-expected move. Google first announced its intentions back in September 2016. The company cited a study that shows Internet users do not perceive the lack of a secure icon as a warning as one of their reasons. It then took regular measures to get website owners used to the idea. First by calling websites that process privacy sensitive data without HTTPS not secure, and soon after adding sites that included text forms to this list. Now we are on our way to a world where all HTTP websites are no longer secure under Google’s flag.
The effects of this change
Google intends to make the Internet a safer place with this update. It will thus have some consequences for those websites that refuse to change to the HTTPS protocol. The not-secure banner will become a signal to visitors that a website is risky or low quality and can cause them to go to the competition. It will also create a higher bounce rate among Internet users and in turn negatively influence the natural search performance of a HTTP page.
This can seem like an easy choice to make — but switching to HTTPS isn’t always a straightforward process. Owners of small websites can use quick Secure Sockets Layer install programs, yet for larger websites the change can require some groundwork. If a substantial site chooses to switch from HTTP to HTTPS, it needs to ensure a change of every link and image on its pages. This can turn the procedure into a challenge. We still expect all major websites to make the transition as no one likes to pick a fight with Google.
Even though Google announced their preference for HTTPS a while ago, there are many website owners who haven’t gotten the memo. We see in our data that China only has 3.6 percent of their sites running on the HTTPS protocol. Other countries that need to step up their website security game are Sweden and Germany with 15.8 percent and 17.2 percent respectively.
There are also countries where the protocol is more used. High number can be found for websites in South Africa (57.5 percent), Indonesia (48.4 percent) and Canada (43.7 percent).
Steps for you to take
If you are a website owner with little knowledge about website security, this is the time to read up on the topic. You can get started at your registrar, and see if they can help you out. Alternatively, check out this article for a quick course on HTTPS and how to get it.
Not a website owner? This change is still important to you! The HTTPS protocol creates a safer connection and protects your personal information. Always look out for the padlock and green address bar in the browser you use.
Would you like more information on HTTPS, the use of SSL certificates or other data we index? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.