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Google Chrome Set to Unleash New Website Security Warning – Should You Take Heed?

Long gone are the days of security pop-ups in the form of intrusive grey boxes that cover content until you click a nerve-racking “OK” (or sometimes multiple clicks) to proceed. However, this doesn’t mean the internet is any safer. Real threats exist, and they are constantly evolving, making it more difficult than ever to dot your i’s and cross your t’s when it comes to digital content. Google Chrome will soon let you know whether to be weary of a website or not – but will you heed the warning?

We, as a society, tend to coast along the edge of internet danger – often knowing better – but making security mistakes nonetheless. We neglect our anti-virus software, we ignore backup updates, and sometimes, we even still click on those ridiculous email phishing links – even if we don’t recognize the source. Too many times, these risky moves put our data in jeopardy, resulting in great personal losses. There are plenty of times, too, when nothing happens at all, and we continue on without as much as a second thought. So, how will we react when Google exposes every non-encrypted website as soon as we come upon it?

Businesses do not differ much from individuals when it comes to internet security. Hardware and software updates, backups, and security upgrades are often put off or even ignored because they’re too expensive, too disruptive, or simply too overwhelming to tackle. For you or me, this neglectful behavior only hurts ourselves, but for businesses the risk is much larger. Anyone visiting a company’s website could be at risk if the proper security protocols are not in place or are out of date.

Google has a plan to change internet security so that all users are protected from, or at least warned about, entering unsecure websites. As we know from surfing the web, some URLs now begin with “https” instead of the original “http,” which simply means these websites are secure, and all communication exchanged through them is safe because it’s encrypted. This means hackers cannot access your information through interactions on these webpages. Google loves these websites, and if you host a business site, they want yours to be like them too.

For now, Google is lightly pressuring businesses to comply, but if we know anything Google, we know that, eventually, permanent changes will be mandatory. Until then, how would you feel about Google telling every visitor to your page that they possibly shouldn’t be on it? Beginning in October, Google’s Chrome browser will display a “Not Secure” message in the address bar whenever any user interacts with a non-encrypted website. When speaking in Google terms, interacting with a website includes entering text in logins, search fields, credit card forms, and other similar actions. However, any user in “Incognito Mode” will receive the warning whenever they visit a non-secure site, even if they perform no interactions at all.

How weary should you be about receiving a “Not Secure” warning message? It depends. Many websites still using the HTTP protocol do encrypt some of the important communication, such as credit card information and passwords, through different methods. This means you could be receiving a “Not Secure” message for using a search field, but not when you are checking out because the credit card page has been encrypted already. The problem with this is that if you do receive a “Not Secure” warning on one page, there may be no real way of knowing whether the information you entered on other parts of the website is safe or not. With Chrome dominating the global browser market by a long shot, it may be wise for companies to take a second look at how important these messages will be to visitors, and just how important it is to offer customers a secure experience.

Should you expect to see a great movement from the HTTP protocol to HTTPS after Google unleashes their scare tactics? Probably not right away. As mentioned from the start, we are a society of risk takers, often pushing the limits until we’re burned. In fact, Google began notifying companies that increased security warnings about HTTP websites were on the horizon, but a massive number of top online retailers have yet to make the switch. This could drastically change as Google rolls out Chrome 62 in October, causing many of us to think twice before signing up for our next newsletter or buying that too-good-to-be-true item from a not so known website. If history truly does repeat itself, we should all be pretty certain that Google’s “warnings” will not take long to evolve into a mandatory protocol for all online businesses, but perhaps this time we can all get behind making the internet a safer place to be.

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