Site Shaming: Google’s Long-Range Plan for Safe and Secure Webpages

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when website owners, designers and administrators didn’t necessarily see the value of spending the extra time and resources ensuring their sites were safe and secure from the prying eyes and nefarious actions of hackers. And the results from such negligence were obvious: massive data breaches exposing loads of personal information; cyber fraud on an epic scale; and so much more.

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Today, however, Internet behemoth Google is instituting a new policy that will ensure everything on the web is traveling over a secure channel, and they’re starting with the most of obvious of places: those four little letters (http) that appear at the beginning of every URL.

For those who’ve paid attention at all to the current trends in Internet security, they’re probably aware that there are two types of beginnings to website addresses: “http” and “https.” From here forward, the former will be tagged as bad guys, the latter as the good guys. And in the future, user’s of Google’s Chrome browser will know if they’re not on a safe and sound site by seeing a red “x” over the padlock symbol in the URL bar. Currently, Chrome only shows an icon of a white page when the site one is landing on is not secure and a green-colored padlock when it is.

With this move, Google is essentially saying that, before long, every single last website should be encrypted in the “https” format, which is an added secure layer on top of the usual “http” protocol. And it’s sending a strong message of warning not only to users of their browser that certain sites are unsafe but also to website owners to get their act together and make their pages secure.

The thinking behind the move is that there is a clearly defined relationship of data exchanged between the site’s server and user, so that anyone with the power to snoop on the connection can’t access and steal passwords, private messages, banking information and other sensitive material. And it’s important to note that using “https” doesn’t only protect user data: it also guarantees that someone is connecting to the actual site they want to view, and not a fake or “imposter” version.

In the near future—“soon” is all that Google executives are saying right now—it’s anticipated that every website will utilize “https” and will be the default setting on Chrome. But for now—and this should certainly be a serious wake-up call for anyone who designs, owns or manages a site should be aware of—the search engine will give preferential ranking results to sites that are secure over those that are not.

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