If you have your own website or manage a site that is not using HTTPS, you might have received an email from Google recently. To sum it up, Google said that they were going to begin showing a “NOT SECURE” warning on websites not using HTTPS. This includes both HTTP pages viewed in “Incognito Mode” as well as those that collected passwords, credit card details, and other personal information from users. From now on, every HTTP page will be marked as non-secure. So if you own a website, it would be wise to switch to HTTPS as soon as possible.
What is HTTP & HTTPS
HTTP is the acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol and is an application protocol used by the World Wide Web, which helps define how information is transmitted and formatted. It also determines what actions browsers and web servers need to take in response to different commands.
Some 18 years ago, HTTP became the foundation for communication on the Internet. Every piece of information, every data, every single content sent between a client and a server went through HTTP. This was the case until a short while ago. Since 2013, communication over HTTP is not considered as safe as it used to be. In fact, we now know that a hacker can easily manipulate or even steal information sent on HTTP.
Of course, Google could not sit and remain silent. Instead, it took a series of actions to protect those using the Internet through their Chrome browser; the most recent one early this year
The secure version of HTTP is HTTPS, where “S” stands for “secure”. HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure) is also a protocol that makes sure all data and communication between your browser and the website you are connected to are encrypted. Something that is encrypted is much less vulnerable to breaches.
How would you know if a site is using HTTPS? The most obvious way to tell is that the URL in the address bar will begin with “https://…”. On some browsers, the address bar next to the URL will be green. Also, if you hover your mouse over the URL, you will get a message informing you that the page you have visited is secure (it has a valid certificate). And finally, many browsers such as Chrome will show users a padlock symbol in the tab where they see the website’s URL.
3 Main Reasons Why You Need to Switch to HTTPS
1. For Advanced Security
First of all, if you have a website, you need to be able to provide your customers with peace of mind that their credit card information or other personal details they submit will not get compromised. This is particularly important for eCommerce webmasters. You can only imagine how much damage it would do to your business if your clients’ details were stolen. That being said, those running an information website or a blog that uses HTTP are also at risk of having their login credentials stolen by hackers as well as the information users may send through the website such as through contact forms. Such data breaches can cost you big; they could even mean the end of your online operations. So, migrating to HTTPS will mean you have taken the right step towards protecting your business, your reputation, and, of course, your customers’ privacy.
2. It Helps Your SEO
Many website owners fear that migrating to HTTPS will affect their ranking and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. The truth is it will, but not in the way many think. See, Google has already started indexing HTTPS pages before HTTP ones. And as for Google, you won’t see a sudden jump in the rankings by switching to HTTPS, but your rankings will be negatively affected if you do not switch.
3. It Builds Trust With Your Visitors
We hear of online data breaches at an alarming rate lately. So, it is no wonder that users demand a safer online experience. To achieve that, they have grown to become quite cautious when surfing the Net. A recent study has shown that 90% of people using the Net trust websites that show security indicators, such as the green padlock (see websites with the SSL certificate). They also admit that they feel more comfortable to share their personal information and credit card details and make a purchase online if they know that their data will be sent through a secure connection. So the switch to HTTPS will help you solidify the bond between you and your prospects/customers. This, in turn, will give you better traffic and increased revenues, of course. So in the end, it helps you to remain profitable and competitive.
Switching to HTTPS: What You Need to Know
For starters, you must purchase a security protocol and add it between the client and the server. The most common protocol that generate a certificate (consider it something like an encryption key that makes stealing and/or manipulating information from your server much harder) right now is SSL.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) essentially upgrades the security of your website and is necessary in order to switch your website from HTTP to HTTPS. So the first step is to purchase an SSL certificate. Some commonly-known companies that provide SSL certificates include Symantec, GeoTrust, Comodo, and many others.
Once you have chosen a certificate, a handshake procedure will allow the activation of the protocol. During the installation of the certificate, the SSL protocol will set the secret keys the client and server will use when they communicate. Then, communication between those two (the server and web browser) becomes secure and encrypted. And there are a few different types of certificates you can purchase, depending upon the type of site you have and your needs. Your certificate provider can help you decide.
The final step of the migration is the trickiest and probably best completed by a reputable SEO company that will ensure everything in the switch goes smoothly. They will help redirect your website and all pages and files to its https:// version. After that, simply point all new links to your HTTPS URL.
It has become clear that the future of every website lies in its owner’s willingness to protect its users. Considering the several benefits discussed here, it is to your best interest to adopt the added security layers and provide your customers with the secure online experience they deserve and your business with the credibility it needs to keep going strong.