Starting today with the release of Chrome 68, any websites not marked as HTTPS will have a warning to visitors declaring the site “not secure.” Obviously, a marker on your site saying it isn’t secure is going to scare website visitors away.
What is HTTPS and why is it important?
If you look at your web browser’s address bar and see https instead of http at the beginning of the URL, you’ll know the site is secured using an SSL certificate. (Since you’re reading this, look at the address on this site and you’ll see it.) An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate encrypts information sent through a website so a hacker won’t be able to see it if they’re snooping around a website.
For example, if you’re not using SSL and someone submits a contact form on your site, the hacker can read the message. Taking that a step further, if your site collects login information or any sensitive information like credit card numbers or Social Security numbers, hackers can read those, too.
Even if your website doesn’t collect sensitive information or even have a contact form, SSL can still be a security benefit. For example, if you’ve ever visited a website on public wifi and got served ads, those ads might not be from the website. They could have been injected by a hacker, and they could potentially even install malware onto your computer. HTTPS can help protect against that.
That’s not all, though. Search engines like Google rank SSL websites higher and HTTPS sites tend to load faster than plain HTTP websites.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, it’s only Google Chrome. How many people use that browser anyway?” The answer: A lot. Google’s Chrome browser possibly overtook Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the most popular browser in 2012, and its popularity has only grown since then, having been confirmed as the undisputed most-used web browser in 2016.
Chrome isn’t alone though. Firefox is considering making a similar declaration about non-HTTPS websites, and between the two of them you’re looking at nearly three-fourths of the browser market share.
If you’re not convinced of the importance of having an HTTPS website, I’m not sure anything else I say here will change your mind. However, if you’re ready to make the jump to HTTPS, you probably want to know how to do it and what it costs.
Here’s the cool thing. At Nextwave, we’ve set up our server to automatically include SSL certificates with all of our hosting accounts. It’s something we’ve quietly been testing for months now, so if you host your website through Nextwave Concepts, you don’t have to do anything at all to stay up-to-date on security and browser requirements.
Note that some of our clients may need a settings update to have the site automatically load with HTTPS instead of HTTP. To see if you need an update, simply go to your website. If you look in the address bar and see https at the beginning of it, you’re good to go. If you don’t see it, let us know and we’ll make the switch for you, free of charge as part of your monthly maintenance package (also included with your hosting).