How Google Chrome is making YOUR browsing Safer

This article first appeared as a contribution to innovation-village.com

The world is moving towards having everything on the internet, companies are integrating their services with various online platforms for ease of access allowing us to learn, shop and be entertained from the comforts of our homes. This is especially true for the financial transactions involved in obtaining services and it means that a lot of convenience is coming while making the internet a dangerous place. With the growing path of monetization  of online platforms with words like “in-app purchases” and “subscription” flying around everywhere and we are constantly asked for credit card information even for Free Trials. As a customer you could easily be trying to purchase a pair of socks and end up losing your savings.

Everyone’s Fear

Does being online every worry you? Do you think about your browsing security?Worried about who gets to see what you are doing, or who may gain access to your account information. We put a lot of our important information online including addresses, place of employment, passwords and the most important one being credit card information. All this information, if it falls into the wrong hands could leave you in a very sticky situation.

Familiarity Breeds bad internet habits…

Often we will get caught in the moment of the joys of being able to do things from the comfort of our homes and security becomes the last thing on your mind. The belief that everyone on the internet is a hard working individual is the type of mindset that will land you in trouble with your money gone. Did you know that websites have differing levels of security? We have what are known as secure websites (represented by an HTTPS before the URL) and well, not so secure websites (represented by an HTTP before the URL). To make this less confusing we’ll just use Secure and Non – secure for HTTPS and HTTP respectively.

In the midst of all this it is good to know that Google has our back, the Google Chrome team published a security report that shows that you will be notified when logging on to insecure sites. It will be notification based method, Google Chrome will not be blocking any websites but they want you to be aware if you are going into potentially unsafe territory.

How it will Work

Bare with me, it may get a bit technical. I’ll try to soften it as much as possible.

With an end goal of allowing safe web browsing, Chrome has started to indicate that you may be unsafe through the use of an icon in the address bar. The notification itself is a greyed out encircled exclamation mark. It’s not too conspicuous so some may actually miss it if they do not pay attention to detail. The idea I’m sure is not to outright frighten you off there and then.

Non – Secure Notification Now vs In  January 2017 (Chrome 56)

In the past HTTP websites were not outright “Non – Secure” websites. Google chrome just accepted that there were HTTP websites and more secure HTTPS websites.Chrome has decided that in January 2017  it will warn you if a website is non-secure. 

The notification is of course only if the site collects passwords or credit card information. This is obviously part of their plan to ensure that most websites move to Secure and provide safer browsing for the everyday person.

current Browsing security non secure notification
Current Browsing Security Notification

The currently visible neutral indicator for non-secure sites is not one that calls for urgency in terms of website security. It just alerts browsers to the potential threats that lie in information supply on the site. The key is doing without making it seem like a deterrent to visit these sites or supply information. Deterring users would obviously make Google unpopular with website owners.

2017 Browsing security non secure notification
2017 Google Chrome Non Secure Notification

Why Secure Browsing?

When you load a non-secure website , hackers can view or modify the information you supply on the site. That sounds really scary right? Especially because there is no way of knowing it is happening.

The good news for you and me, is that there has been a huge shift to Secure websites this year. I guess having the Google Chrome put it out there actually helped. As it stands more than half of desktop website page loads are now Secure. 

Chrome Reports that even pages in the top 100 becoming a part of the movement. The internet is much safer than it was in January, which is such a good thing although it’s not quantifiable. What you could lose is huge, it could be your identity or your money.

Why Not the Red Triangle Now?

According to the Chrome Team this has been done in stages. Users start ignoring warnings and notifications that come too often and the want to avoid that. The aim is to change from the neutral notification to the Red Triangle used for broken HTTPS now. It won’t be a good thing to have a website that is on the non – secure side of the border. This will be especially true if many sites have move over and your site just looks like the black sheep.

There are many reasons why any website that requests your password needs to be secure . One being how no matter how it’s not safe, we mostly use the same password for multiple websites. Imagine if that password went into the wrong hands! That’s enough to hope Chrome speeds up the introduction of the notification system with the big scary triangle.

As a surfer of the net, start taking notice of these things and protect yourself. As a website owner, moving to HTTPS will be a good decision for you and your users.

#kaizenYOU

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