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HTTPS website security

In the tech world, acronyms are plentiful but their meanings aren’t always clear. You may be accustomed to seeing “http” or “https” added to websites after you type them into the navigation bar and hit enter. What you may not know is what they mean, how they’re different, and which should pop up for users visiting your website. We’re going to shine a light on that for you now.

What is HTTPS?

HTTP (without the s) stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. In a nutshell, it’s a set of rules that govern how your website talks to a user’s computer and all the servers in between, like a social custom where people meet, shake hands, ask about the weather, and then begin conversing. HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) is simply a more secure version of that same protocol. It’s kind of like having a secret handshake and a code word that must be exchanged before a confidential conversation can begin. If your website and users are standing in a room full of hackers, HTTPS is how they would avoid giving them any secrets.

How Do You Know If Your Site Uses HTTPS?

The simplest way to tell is to just type your web address into the navigation bar, and see what the browser does. If a small padlock icon pops us, you’re already using HTTPS. If not, communication on your site is not secure.

Why Your Site Needs HTTPS

First off, if you’re asking users to give you confidential information on your site, you absolutely need HTTPS. Otherwise, you’re too easy a target for hackers.

But what if you don’t ask for things like credit card or social security numbers? Does it really matter?

In fact, it does. Here’s why.

Despite the fact that many websites, even big names like the New York Times and IMDB, don’t use HTTPS, even non-confidential information can be detrimental in the wrong hands. Do you ask people to sign up for your newsletter on your website? What happens when that user starts getting spam soon after entrusting it to you, because a hacker pulled it off your site? You get a reputation for being untrustworthy, that’s what. That, and a whole host of other potential security pitfalls, such as hacked social media and email accounts.

Google’s Crackdown

There’s another reason you need to switch over to HTTPS as soon as possible. Google has decided to blow the whistle on unsecure sites beginning in October 2017. Instead of just adding a padlock to secure sites typed into Chrome, it will now call out unsecure sites in bold letters.

An example of what the alert to users may look like.

How to Get HTTPS on Your Website

One of the biggest questions we get at cThru Media is how hard it is to switch a site over the HTTPS. Performing an HTTPS migration will require your web development team and your SEO to work together. A secured certificate will need to be purchased; your web team or hosting company should be able to help you with this. Once that has been taken care of your web team will migrate the site to the new server. Your SEO team will then need to update tracking details, find broken links, submit new sitemap, and various other tasks to make sure the transition went off without any hitches.

Be warned that for the first six weeks or so after the migration you may notice fluctuations in you organic rankings, this is normal. Google will be getting reacquainted with your new secret handshake. Once this period is over you should see rankings go back to normal or even improve. If not, your SEO team should do some in-depth trouble shooting.

Are you ready to make sure your website is secure for your user’s sake of mind and to avoid scary warnings from Google? We can help, let our team migrate your site to HTTPS , contact cThru Media today.