Google is on a mission to make the internet more secure. To that end, the next version of Google’s Chrome web browser will mark all HTTP websites as “non-secure.” Chrome 68, the upcoming update, will continue to push more and more website owners to switch from the much less secure Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to HTTPS.
This is a small change but an important one that could affect your website. If you still use HTTP, then any visitor accessing your site through Chrome will have a warning that your site is non-secure—even if you know it’s fine (i.e. you’re not a scam artist targeting customer information).
The fact remains that HTTPS is more secure, and Google knows it, which is why they’re out to do what they can to upgrade the level of security found on the internet.
What Is HTTPS?
In short, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP because it uses SSL when sending data—an encryption service that protects data when transferred between two parties. SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and means anyone intercepting your data between participants will only see a page of gibberish.
The encryption process is managed by two keys: one public and the other private. The public key is given out to anyone. This is how the public is able to access a website and share information, like making a purchase on Amazon. The private key, however, is kept protected by the website owners. Only with both the private and public keys can your information be decoded, meaning third parties are unable to access your information.
SSL is the web standard for encryption, which is why Google is interested in proliferating it across all websites.
Will This Change the Internet?
Absolutely not! Well, it will, but only for the better. It won’t interrupt your customers’ ability to surf, buy, or sell—it will just make doing so more secure. Every site that switches to HTTPS is one more location that is dedicated to protecting consumers’ personal and digital information. This isn’t the first time search engines have changed, and it won’t be the last. Google, like it did with intent-based search results, is out to craft the best and safest internet experience.
Google has pushed for an increase in HTTPS use for some time now, and Chrome 68 is just the latest step in their ongoing mission. The web is already safer for users with Google’s help, as traffic through Chrome shows that 68–78 percent (depending on Android, Windows, or Mac device) of websites already use HTTPS. In addition, 81 of the top 100 sites are using HTTPS to ensure a safe browsing experience.
How Can I Switch My Site to HTTPS?
Through Chrome, Google is attempting to make it as simple as possible to upgrade all your pages to HTTPS. The latest Node CLI version of Lighthouse has mixed content audits to help developers pinpoint individual pages across websites that are still using HTTP (even when the rest of the site is using HTTPS). This automated tool will help you and your developers find HTTP pages and upgrade them to HTTPS.
Once you know where your HTTP pages are, it’s a fairly simple process to upgrade to using an SSL certificate. (Your IT people can help!)
Chrome 68 will be released in July 2018, so if you don’t want your site labelled through Chrome as “non-secure,” take steps today to upgrade to HTTPS. This way, you can avoid any loss of traffic as people come to your website through Chrome only to be informed the site is “non-secure.”
By following Google’s advice, you can contribute to the safer future of the internet. Though the joke is that Google is “shaming” HTTP sites, the truth is they are out to better inform users of the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, and the necessity of a secure internet.