During the weekend, you probably saw stories in the news about Google and Facebook being conned out of $100 million by an online scammer. If you haven’t, this article by the Guardian is worth a quick look.
Beyond the initial Schadenfreude response this story likely elicits, (Ha! That’ll teach them not to pay their fair share of taxes), it’s also bound to have raised concerns amongst consumers about their online security.
“OMG – if this can happen to online giants like Google and Facebook with all their security resources, how can I be safe?!!…”
The Guardian story adds to these concerns with the statement that online fraud cost UK consumers at least £14.8bn last year.
Whilst the issue Google and Facebook faced was due to an elaborate phishing scheme that had nothing to do with website security, it’s like to have made people more aware about this topic.
Since January, Google’s Chrome browser alerts users that a non-https website is “not secure” if it prompts a visitor for passwords or credit card details. And from October when version 62 of Chrome gets rolled out, Google will label ALL http pages as non-secure (not just those collecting passwords or credit card details).
If people see a warning like this when they’re accessing your website there’s a risk some could be sufficiently spooked to bail and not proceed. Potentially costing you lost business.
Google has been actively encouraging website owners to secure their websites using SSL and has even sweetened the deal by supposedly giving https secured sites a slight boost in search results.
Given all the above, it’s not surprising that increasing numbers of websites have moved to SSL.
A report released by MOZ this week reveals that half of the page one search results in Google have HTTPS URLs. This is up from 30 percent of the results in July 2016. And based on this trend, 70 percent of the page one search results could be HTTPS by the end of the year.
Why should you care?
In the past, many website owners have resisted making the move to SSL because of the cost and hassle involved.
The cost objection has progressively diminished over time and now you can get SSL certificates for free through the Let’s Encrypt scheme which is sponsored by Google & other corporates.
However, installing and properly configuring SSL certificates with the correctly-filled-in ‘CSR’ (Certificate Signed Request) can still be difficult and massively time-consuming.
If that’s been putting you off moving to SSL you might want to check out web hosting service WPX. They’ve developed a tool that can automatically install a free SSL certificate for your website in less than 60 seconds. They have a video showing this in action here.
So, now there’s really no reason why most websites shouldn’t move to SSL. MAYBE you’ll get a slight boost in search rankings, but the main benefit is you’ll protect your users and reassure them you care about their security.
Now that awkward mea culpa moment….
Astute readers may have noticed that, despite us advocating sites move to SSL, our own website isn’t SSL. In addition, another piece of advice we advocate also isn’t being followed by us – namely having a responsive designed website.
OK – you got us!
Both things are being addressed shortly when we launch our new site which will be both responsive and SSL. So, yes, we will be eating our own dogfood.
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Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).