New Security Requirements for your Website

If you own a website you are more aware than the average internet user of the increasing and ever-changing security measures that need to be undertaken to ensure a safe browsing experience.

Thankfully, users are more click aware now than ever before and are learning the tell-tale signs of a risky site.

Over the years the browser applications that we use have evolved to try to make the task of being vigilant a bit easier for the end-user.  They’ve provided “flags” to allow the user to see (usually pretty easily) if there’s a problem with a particular website or if the website is deemed to be “Secure”. One of the browsers that is commonly used is Google Chrome. Have you visited your own website recently using Google Chrome? If so, hopefully you saw this:

That green padlock is Google’s way to tell you (and more importantly visitors to your site) that the site is secure – that they can freely enter information and be assured that it is safe from prying electronic eyes.

What you do not want to see is this:

It is possible the above is what visitors to your site will see if they are using Chrome as their browser and you don’t have an SSL Certificate.

You want consistent traffic.  Consistent leads.  Consistent sales.

The message is, get an SSL cert before it impacts your web-site traffic, your SEO ratings, and ultimately your business.  If you want some advice or some help contact us at BITS, support@bits.ie, 056-7786882.

Here’s the technical bit!

Since October 2017 Google insist that all sites, regardless of whether you are selling, have an SSL Cert (you can read more about that below) to be deemed secure for the end-user.  If a user is searching using Google Chrome (which is by far the most widely used search engine) and your site does not have an SSL cert, they will see that red flag and will promptly disconnect as soon as they land.

If any page of your website captures data on any form (such as a “contact us” page of a website) and if that page is not secured with SSL, the page will only be displayed with a warning – if it is displayed at all.  There is no doubt that this is being driven by new data protection regulations that are coming into force in the EU in May 2018 (GDPR).  The web is an organic evolving thing and we must evolve with it or be left out in the cold.

So, what is this change by Google and how does it affect your site?

When it comes to the internet, Google has become the domineering force globally.  To run your business in this environment you need to pay attention to the measures they impose.

The majority of people searching on the internet for the products or services you sell are using Google’s search engine.  It’s by far the most popular search engine – in use by over 3 times its closest rival (Microsoft’s Bing).  On mobile devices and tablets it has an even bigger lead.  It’s estimated that mobile and tablet searches constitute up to 70% of internet searches.

As mentioned, Google also has a browser, called “Chrome”.  According to w3counter, Chrome overtook Internet Explorer in November 2011 to become the most popular browser and has since only increased its lead over the rest.  In November 2017 the percentage of people using versions of Chrome was 42% – well ahead of its nearest rival (Safari).

Combining those two – a dominant search engine and a dominant browser – it’s readily apparent that Google is very powerful.  Correspondingly, if you are in the business of using your website as a marketing tool, you need to be aware of the journey that Google has set out on.  The reason is simple – it’s imperative for your online presence that your site remains in Google’s good books

That journey is a relentless drive towards enhanced security of data on the web.

The background

In 2014 Google started enticing websites to use HTTPS (basically the SSL Certificate mentioned above) through giving sites who use HTTPS a boost in how their site were ranked in Google Search.  In other words, if you upgraded your website to use HTTPS your website would rank higher in organic search results for people searching using keywords associated with your business.

Google’s end goal?  They want encrypted communications to be used everywhere.  And, to that end, they are giving browser users new security information.  Beginning January 2017, Chrome started marking HTTP pages as non-secure if they collect password or credit card information.  It’s no longer a case of being offered a carrot (ranking boost) if you do what they like.  It’s now a case that you’re going to be hit by a stick unless you do what they want.

Up until last October you were immune if your website doesn’t collect password or credit card information.  The new change to their algorithms means that any page with data capture, such as a contact form, will only be displayed with a warning – if it is displayed at all.

SSL is an acronym standing for Secure Socket Layer.  It is a protocol that helps ensure encryption of communication.  If you want to ensure that any data entered on your website by a user is safe as it finds its way from your user’s browser to your server, then you need to have a SSL certificate.

This tightening noose is not confined to how your website appears to users.  In certain instances, Google is now labelling websites in search results to be problematic.  And this can also happen with browsers other than Chrome!

The writing is on the wall.  To avoid losing traffic or potential customers, you need to plan a migration of your website to using HTTPS and SSL.  You need a SSL certificate and for it to be professionally installed and operational throughout your site.

To discuss this challenge and how BITS can help you, please feel free to contact us at support@bits.ie or call 056-7786882.