Tick, Tock: Secure Your Website Before July 1 Or Else

In Tips & Tricks by District Maven

Unless you've been living under a rock lately (and if so, that's fine - whatever you're into), it's no secret that data security online has been a bit of an issue for everyone, to say the least. While it has only recently made international headlines, the search engines have been making moves toward Internet security for years now -- but they're about to implement their most impactful move next month and you would be wise to pay attention.

Google quietly started hinting at their dislike of unencrypted sites in 2015 and formally warned the public via blog post (here) the following year. Starting July 1st, 2018, however, Google Chrome will mark all sites using the "http://" protocol as "not secure" with a very public warning to go along with it. Product Security Manager, Emily Schechter, recently elaborated on the update, stating that starting with version 68, the browser will warn users with an extra notification in the address bar. Chrome currently marks HTTPS-encrypted sites with a green lock icon and “Secure” sign.

so what does this mean, anyways?

Simply, having a secure website means that the URL automatically uses "https://" at the beginning, instead of "http://." In more technical terms, this protocol encryption safeguards the data channel between any given browser and the specific website one is currently on. This protects sensitive data from being tampered with, spied upon or otherwise hacked. Without it, anyone with the ability to access your router or ISP could do some serious damage to your business in more ways than one -- whether that be by injecting malware into your server or stealing information, the consequences could be disastrous.

why in the world is this happening?

W​ithout a doubt, recent international data security breaches have provided the search engines with significant incentive to make such a drastic move. Publicly, the Chrome team claimed that it was largely because of the increased use of HTTPS protocols and the fact that a significant amount of Chrome traffic is already encrypted.​ “Based on the awesome rate that sites have been migrating to HTTPS and the strong trajectory through this year,” Schechter said, “we think that in July the balance will be tipped enough so that we can mark all HTTP sites.”

what can i do to be ready?

Fortunately for all of you out there who are starting to get nervous, preparing for the July 1st protocol update isn't particularly difficult. The SSL Certificates needed to implement the secure protocol are most often procured through one's hosting provider, but automated services such as Let's Encrypt are available too. If you're a Google-die hard and prefer to stay within their family of online tools, you're also in luck. The search engine's Lighthouse Tool provides easy-to-use resources for migrating a website to HTTPS.

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