Users of Google’s Chrome web browser will soon see a “not secure” message when visiting websites that don’t use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) technology.
According to IT World Canada, the upcoming update for Google Chrome will help users differentiate between traditional Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and HTTPS websites more easily. Chrome 68 will mark websites using the less-secure HTTP as “not secure.”
So, why does Chrome care if websites use HTTP or HTTPS? Well, you must first understand the differences between these two protocols. All web browsers use protocols to communicate with websites. While both HTTP and HTTPS perform this task, the latter is more secure. To determine with protocol a website uses, look at your web browser. Whether you use Chrome, Firefox, Opera or Internet Explorer, you should see a prefix before the site’s domain name. The HTTPS prefix indicates the site is secure and uses the HTTPS protocol.
With HTTP, any data an internet user sends or receives may be intercepted. If a hacker is monitoring the user’s connection, he or she may steal sensitive information submitted online, such as login credentials, credit card numbers, Social Security number and more. The HTTPS protocol protects against cyber threats such as this by encrypting all data via the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol. A hacker may still monitor a user’s connection, but since the data is encrypted, the hacker cannot read it. Only the website to which the user is connected can read the user’s transmitted data.
Some e-commerce websites are actually required to use HTTPS. If an e-commerce site uses a payment processor, for instance, that company may require the use of HTTPS as a security measure to protect against fraud. This prevents visitors’ payment information from being stolen.
For webmasters, this news reinforces the importance of switching from HTTP to HTTPS. If a visitor sees “not secure” in his or her web browser, they may back out and choose a different, more secure website. Furthermore, Google announced the use of HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014, meaning sites using HTTPS technology have a greater chance of outranking those using HTTP.
Chrome 68 is expected to launch July 1. That means webmasters have just a few months to upgrade their website to HTTPS. Otherwise, the new version of Chrome may turn their visitors away.