Chrome soon will warn that lots more websites aren't secure

  • CNET | by: STEPHEN SHANKLAND |
  • 02/08/2018
Eight years ago, it was an aggressive move when Google started pushing its popular Gmail service over an encrypted connection by default. Four years ago, it was a bit less surprising when it made encryption the only option for Gmail. And now it's taking the next step in trying to curtail eavesdropping: using its Chrome browser to label as "not secure" any website that's not encrypted.

The move will fulfill a promise -- OK, maybe it was more of a threat -- Google made three years ago. The company said the day would be coming, but on Thursday it told website publishers and Chrome users the deadline: the release of Chrome 68 in July.

If you're a Chrome user, and there are good odds you are since it's the most-used browser these days, you shouldn't freak out when you start seeing lots of "not secure" warnings to the left of the browser's address bar. They're most likely flagging unencrypted websites you've already been visiting without your digital world collapsing -- you just didn't know there was no encryption.

In the early days of the internet, encryption required more-powerful computing hardware, slowed down communications, and required websites to pay for expensive encryption certificates. But those performance problems are largely gone, and efforts like Let's Encrypt now make the certificates free.

And there's good reason to add the encryption. Obviously, you need it if you're typing your password into a website -- that's where Chrome first started offering its warnings a year ago. But even with seemingly ordinary websites, where you might not think you have anything to hide, encryption is a good idea.

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