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Google Chrome Pushes For Encrypted Web

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Wednesday, May 20th, 2015


Google has just now taken a giant step towards making the web a much more secure place! The search giant has recently introduced a security feature in the beta version of its popular Chrome browser that will automatically flag unencrypted webpages visited by the users. The new feature is indeed going to be a game changer since it would force web service providers to move towards encryption.

While a majority of payment processing sites, email providers and social networks use HTTPS based encryption to protect the personal details of their users, the idea of 100% encrypted web is still in its infancy. As things stand now, even big and popular sites like Wikipedia, CNN, Instagram and Craigslist are not using encryption to secure their pages. That’s because moving to an encrypted setup is an expensive proposition since it requires additional investment for security certificates and hardware. On the other hand, unencrypted web traffic is not secure since it can be intercepted by the intelligence agencies, private organizations (including ISPs) and even hackers lurking on Wi-Fi hotspots. The documents leaked by Edward Snowden show how the lack of encryption made it easier for the NSA to spy on the online activities of millions of ordinary citizens.

Google has been advocating for an encrypted web for a number of years. The company was one of the first major service providers to move towards encrypted email service (for its popular product Gmail). With the introduction of this new feature, the company hopes to raise awareness about encrypted web and push a large number of web service providers into adopting HTTPS.

The feature is currently available in the bleeding-edge Canary version of Chrome which serves both as a beta version and a platform for developers. The feature is available through a manual setting that says “Mark non-secure origins as non-secure” in chrome/flags interface of the browser. Once the feature is enabled, a red cross mark would appear in the address bar whenever the user visits an unencrypted webpage.

It is not clear when or if at all, Google intends to roll out this feature into the final version of the Chrome browser. Google wants the transition to be gradual since most internet users are not really used to seeing warnings about unencrypted pages. There is also a danger that people would start ignoring the warning altogether, since it would be displayed for a majority of websites.

If Google decides to go ahead with the feature, it is likely to face opposition from web service providers. While it is definitely cheaper to move towards encrypted setup now than it was few years ago, small businesses are likely to feel the pinch since they usually don’t have the budget for additional security features. The move is also likely to increase operating costs for large players since Content Delivery Networks charge a premium for encrypted traffic. Finally, Google may also run into opposition from political class, some of whom have vowed to ban encrypted web traffic altogether.

By introducing this feature, Google has taken a decisive stand towards a more secure internet. However, the road ahead is not be easy since the company needs to satisfy the demands of so many stakeholders.


May 20, 2015
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