A Guide On Security And Why HTTPS Is Now The Required Standard For All Websites

Example of HTTPS and Padlock

Over the years that the internet has been around, most people likely know that when you transact a sale or do your banking online, that you should be able to see a padlock in the browser with a website address that starts with HTTPS instead of the simple HTTP.

Everyone was taught and has been conditioned to look for both the lock and the S when money was involved. Basically, these two functions meant the personal data being supplied was encrypted, so that others could not steal it and use it in a fraudulent manner.

The act of encrypting meant that the real data, such as passwords, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and other forms of identification were scrambled in code, so that the data didn’t mean anything to anyone watching it pass by on the screen. Consequently, the user was protected from bad players.

But, as with most things, times have changed and progressed, so new security measures are required. And because of this, your server or hosting are directly affected. Where it used to be that only e-commerce sites, financial institutes, and other personal information gathering enterprises used HTTPS, now it seems that all sites should have this form of coding or security.

What Is HTTPS Versus HTTP?

The old HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. There was one basic layer or application that transferred data. HTTPS, on the other hand refers to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Briefly, this means that more than one layer of protocols are used to handle data. Further, the method of keeping the data protected is called Secure Sockets Layer. More commonly referred to as SSL, with an e-commerce site where you collected payments from customers, the site owner would buy an SSL Certificate which would be installed on the server.

Typically users would browse the site using the HTTP version, but when they decided to become customers and actually buy something, the payment screen would switch to HTTPS with the padlock. The buyer could rest assured that their personal information was protected from thieves. It specifically meant that the buyer was not being transferred to a malicious site, but was in fact, still on the real website and sending monies to the correct business.

Protect YourselfFurther, the installed SSL certificate had to match the records. For example, it could not be expired, it had to have the correct domain name for which it was assigned, it needed to correspond with the right company name, and business address. If it did not match, a browser would return an invalid certificate warning and suggest that you not carry on, that you should abort that particular page. The idea behind this was that something was lurking on the other side that could be potentially dangerous, such as a thief redirecting payments, hackers stealing data for resale, or any other number of nefarious operations.

What Happened To Change The Way Website Addresses Are Displayed?

Indeed, you will now notice many more sites displaying the HTTPS version of the protocol rather than the original HTTP. As sites started to collect information for email lists and permitted users to comment on their content, or offered sites where members logged in, the secure form began to take precedent. Then, finally, in early 2018, the biggest influencing factor happened. And that was Google!

Specifically, Google announced that come July 2018, their Chrome 68 browser would identify sites that did not use Secure Sockets Layer. This meant that any website that did not use the encryption technology would be singled out when a user tried to view the site. Quite quickly, you can understand the ramifications of such an action, right? In an instant, traffic would be lost, sales would decrease, and basically, a popular website could be lost due to warnings about sub-standard activity.

So why would Google do this? As you are aware, the company does try to regulate their search engine results, so that bad players can’t dominate or manipulate the SERPS. But as much as they change algorithms and penalize certain sites, the thieves, hackers, black hatters, and grey hatters keep coming back with new ways to thwart the system.

As a common way to trick both the search engines and users was by redirecting site pages to other pages, or spawning lots of pages over top of one another, to increase security, it was deemed necessary that all legitimate players would have security installed to protect not only their customers, but also, their business. Thus, the HTTPS was mandated.

What Are The Benefits Of Upgrading To HTTPS?

#1 Internet Browsers

As browsers become more sophisticated in terms of security, viruses and malicious activities, using HTTPS will help avoid some trust issues. Since the SSL certificate must be verified, website users will become used to seeing only the secure version for any site.

#2 Google

While many don’t like being dictated to, the truth is that google wields a lot of power in the online world. We may as well conform, and we really have to since so many people love to use Chrome as their main browser. And with cell phones, tablets, and the whole mobile market, one doesn’t want to be left out. If you would like to read their own take on the issue, here is some information on it.

#3 SEO Benefits

Now, there have not been any notices to suggest this yet, but realistically speaking, if your site is going to be flagged as unsecure, there could come a point in time, when it would not be favored in the search engine results. This would make complete sense if the browser thinks the site is malicious, then the warning could extend to pages being displayed in high ranking positions. We have put together a really good analysis of server related SEO over here for you to read.

#4 Speed

One of the greatest benefits to come out of using the HTTPS is the fact that pages load much faster than with HTTP. Since you want your readers and customers to have the best possible user experience, this can only be a huge bonus to that goal. And again, speed is a factor in search engine optimization, so why not use all the advantages at your disposal?

#5 Consumer Confidence

Because browsers are making users more aware by bringing the security issue to the forefront with alerts and warnings, it stands to reason that like in the old days of learning about the padlock and https, customers will now want to be assured of protection. It takes a lot of trust to make a sale, and you work hard to find clients and maintain positive customer relations, so it is in your best interests to make them feel comfortable when they browse your site, or use any of the features.

Without doubt, HTTPS has become the default mode of operation for any website. Speak to your hosting company today or if you have your own servers, make sure to discuss the issue with your server management team and become compliant.

Here’s more on the topic in video form.

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