Google wants everything on the web to be travelling over a secure channel. That’s why in the future your Chrome browser will flag unencrypted websites as insecure, displaying a red “x” over a padlock in the URL bar.
With this upcoming change in Chrome, Google makes it clear that the web of the future should all be encrypted, and all sites should be served over HTTPS, which is essentially a secure layer on top of the usual HTTP web protocol. Several companies and organizations have been pushing for more encrypted sites as part of a campaign to “Encrypt All The Things,” which consists of promoting more websites to abandon the traditional, less secure HTTP protocol and adopt HTTPS.
Why, you ask?
The rationale is that on every website served over HTTP the data exchanged between the site’s server and the user is in the clear, meaning anyone with the ability to snoop on the connection, be it a hacker at a coffee shop or a repressive government, could steal passwords, private messages, or other sensitive information.
But HTTPS doesn’t just protect user data, it also ensures that the user is really connecting to the right site and not an imposter one. This is important because setting up a fake version of a website users normally trust is a favorite tactic of hackers and malicious actors. HTTPS also ensures that a malicious third party can’t hijack the connection and insert malware or censor information.
It’ll be interesting how quickly HTTPS gets adopted. I wonder if it will be like the migration from standard definition to high definition in TV broadcasting.