When the latest version of Google Chrome is released on 23 July, it will bring with it a change that will drastically affect non-HTTPS websites. Any web page that is not encrypted with an SSL/TLS certificate will be labelled with a “Not Secure” warning next to the domain name in the address bar.
What is an SSL certificate?
An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate authenticates that a website correctly encrypts data sent to and from the server. If a user of a website has to enter personal contact or credit card information, then an SSL certificate validates that the information is transmitted securely, and safe from any intruders.
An SSL certificate changes the HTTP prefix of a website address to HTTPS, and this is one way that users can be reassured that the website is safe. The green padlock next to the web address also signifies that the website is SSL-certified.
Google is changing how it treats HTTP sites
Most web browsers have been showing a “Not Secure” warning to users if the web page they’re on is asking for credit card or login details without using SSL certificates, but Chrome 68 will be the first browser to show the warning in the address bar for any page on a website that isn’t secured with an SSL certificate.
Google is making this change in an effort to protect users from pages that are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. If a page is SSL-certified, Google – and users – can trust that the website owners have made efforts to ensure the safety and encryption of the page, but a non-HTTPS website is more likely to have been compromised, potentially leading to theft of user information.
How does the change affect websites?
This “Not Secure” identifier could have drastic impacts to websites. Users will begin to trust the website less, which may result in fewer visitors and possible sales. It’s also been confirmed that a non-HTTPS website will be affected in Google search rankings. In 2014 Google confirmed that any website with an installed SSL certificate will receive an automatic boost in search engine rankings.
As well as the flag in the address bar warning users that the web page may be unsafe, the warning will expand to explicitly advise users against entering any personal information on the web page. HTTPS websites will also benefit from HTTP/2, which among other things will boost the performance of a website, leading to faster page load times which in turn lead to better search engine rankings.