Security

From July, Chrome will name and shame insecure HTTP websites

Shame! Shame! says carrot-dangling Google

By Thomas Claburn in San Francisco

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Three years ago, Google's search engine began favoring in its results websites that use encrypted HTTPS connections.

Sites that secure their content get a boost over websites that used plain-old boring insecure HTTP. In a "carrot and stick" model, that's the carrot: rewarding security with greater search visibility.

Later this year comes the stick. This summer, Google will mark non-HTTPS websites as insecure in its Chrome browser, fulfilling a plan rolled out in September 2016.

Starting with Chrome 68, due to hit the stable distribution channel on July 2018, visiting a website using an HTTP connection will prompt the message "Not secure" in the browser's omnibox – the display and input field that accepts both URLs and search queries.

"Chrome's new interface will help users understand that all HTTP sites are not secure, and continue to move the web toward a secure HTTPS web by default," Google explained in a draft blog post due to be published today and provided in advance to The Register.

Warnings ... How users will be alerted

Beware the looming Google Chrome HTTPS certificate apocalypse!

READ MORE

Because Chrome holds something like 56 per cent of the global browser market share across mobile and desktop platforms, Google's name-and-shame label is likely to be noticed by a great many Chrome users and by any websites those fans no longer visit due to security concerns.

While many websites will be affected, plenty are already in compliance. According to Google, 81 of the top 100 websites use HTTPS by default, over 68 per cent of Chrome traffic on Android and Windows occurs over HTTPS, and over 78 per cent of Chrome traffic on Chrome OS and macOS and iOS travels securely.

Google offers a free security auditing tool called Lighthouse that can help developers identify which website resources still load using insecure HTTP.

The Chocolate Factory's shunning scheme follows a similar tack the company has taken to issue warnings to websites that rely on dodgy Symantec digital certificates. ®

PS: You can get free legit SSL/TLS certificates to make your site HTTPS from Let's Encrypt.

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