Google and SSL

How Google is helping to make internet searches safer.

What is HTTPS?
HTTPS is the acronym for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It is a protocol used for secure communications over a computer network (i.e. the internet). Communication over HTTPS is encrypted between the client and the server so eavesdroppers cannot listen in, tamper with the data or forge your website data.

What is SSL?
SSL is the acronym for Secure Socket Layer. It is a cryptographic protocol that helps encrypt communications over a computer network. Typically, if a website wanted to encrypt the transmission of its data between the server and the client, they would purchase an SSL certificate that contains an encryption key that is placed on the server.

Why are HTTPS and SSL important to Google?
There are three primary reasons that Google is calling for all websites to switch to HTTPS

  • Authentication
  • Data Integrity
  • Encryption

Authentication addresses the issue of verifying the ownership of a website. Amazingly, there are people out there who make replicas of websites in order to steal traffic from your website by diverting it to theirs. When a website has SSL, users are able to take the extra step to verify that the SSL certificate actually belongs to the website they are on (ensuring that they have not been diverted to a thief’s site).

Data Integrity speaks to whether or not the data on the site has been tampered with while it is in transit. If your website is not secure, then hackers can tamper with the data transmitted from your server back to the client. For example, the form that they just filled out and submitted could go to the hacker and instead of the website owner.

Encryption refers to the security of communications between the client and the server so that no one else can read them. This is a key feature for commercial websites. While it is extremely important to encrypt the communications on an e-commerce website, it is equally important to encrypt the data submitted using forms on any websites.

How is Google encouraging a safer internet?
Back in 2014, Google said that if your website was HTTPS it would give that site additional ranking signal in search results. This is a good thing for businesses that have websites that are competing with other businesses for position on search engine results pages.

In January 2017, Google announced that, in addition to giving a bump in rankings to secure websites, they would begin highlighting unsecured websites by displaying the security of the connection in the address bar of Chrome. In the future, your Chrome browser will flag un-encrypted websites as unsecured by displaying a red “x” over a padlock in the URL bar. With this upcoming change in Chrome, Google is making it clear that the web of the future should all be encrypted and that all websites should be served over HTTPS.

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