Google is changing the Internet as we know it and you could be caught in the crosshairs of its latest web development initiative. A massive security upgrade is unfolding before our very eyes, marking a red-letter moment in online history.
Playing it Safe: A New Era For Secure Online Browsing
July 2018 has ushered in a significant development for webmasters and Google Chrome users. Whether you own a business website or a blog, you’re most likely finding yourself in a mad scramble to migrate your sites to HTTPS – and quite rightly so! The web browser is slated for an exciting makeover in a bid to maximize website security and encourage site owners to adopt the HTTPS encryption. The new and improved Chrome 68 browser is a stark improvement from its predecessor and aims to create a safer online environment for users.
While Google has disseminated a lot of information about the lack of security associated with non-HTTPS sites by gradually labelling a large portion of them as Not Secure in the past, the company made an announcement in February 2018 that it will complete this new phase by labelling all of these sites thusly, starting from the month of July.
The Downfalls of Not Having an HTTPS Encryption
The main objective with this initiative is to enable web users to easily decipher whether the sites they visit are secure or not – by having the Not Secure label displayed quite prominently on those sites that do not have a secure HTTPS connection. To wit, if your site does not run HTTPS, users will see the Not Secure tag in the address bar next to your domain name.
Not having an SSL certificate also brings with it other detrimental downfalls. Google de-prioritizes HTTP websites. This means that your non-encrypted site is being excluded from the automatic search ranking boost that Google introduced in 2014.
Of course, as it expected of Google, the company takes this a step further. On non-encrypted sites, the user will also see an additional warning that strongly recommends they refrain from providing any sensitive information, as this is vulnerable to phishing attacks and hacking attempts and could quite easily become compromised. Not only that, websites that do not have an SSL certificate are prone to unauthorized content injections – eg. a user’s ISP injecting malware and ads into your website.
The Benefits of Acquiring an SSL Certificate
To stay abreast of these latest developments, webmasters are now purchasing SSL certificates to inspire a sense of trust and confidence from their visitors. The statistics reflect the change in tide with nearly 70% of Chrome traffic originating from Windows and Android being secure and nearly 80% of Chrome traffic originating from Chrome OS and Mac being secure.
Google Chrome 68 is going all in to ensure that webmasters don’t have to jump through hoops to make that transition to HTTPS. The newest Node CLI version of Lighthouse is an absolute godsend in this regard. Lighthouse is an automated tool that enables webmasters to migrate their websites to HTTPS without any hassle, while aided by mixed content audits. Developers are able to locate the resources that a website loads when deploying the HTTPS as well as which of those resources can be readily upgraded by simply altering the subresource reference to be compatible with the new version.
Furthermore, HTTPS is cheaper and easier than it’s ever been and provides access to several powerful functions and performance boosts that aren’t supported by HTTP. The long and short of it is, your website will be capable of loading up to 40 times faster by operating through HTTP/2. By having an SSL installed, you gain immediate access to API features (video/audio streaming, geolocation, etc.) that are part and parcel of responsive sites in this day and age.
Web users are becoming increasingly informed, given the surplus of knowledge on the Internet. They now look for the telltale green locks in their address bars to gauge the trustworthiness of a site. To afford your visitors that sense of protection, an SSL certificate is the best solution and also lends your site an aura of professionalism and legitimacy.
A Global Change is Brewing: What the Future Holds
The push for an HTTPS backed site by Google has already spawned colossal changes across the digital realm. Roughly 81% of the top 100 sites on the Internet employ HTTPS by default. Safe to say, Google has always been a strong advocate for web security and this new interface further cements its stance on the matter. Because of Google’s staggering influence on the web, early predictions suggest that most other browsers will jump onto the bandwagon and follow in Google’s footsteps before the year is through. In fact, Mozilla Firefox has already introduced the HTTPS Everywhere add-on that focuses on automatically encrypting sites and safeguarding all communications from external infiltration.
With Google Chrome 68, this transition to HTTPS bodes well for the future as we let our poorly secured online browsing habits fall by the wayside and embrace this global movement for a safer Internet community.
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