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Google Chrome: HTTPS or bust. Insecure HTTP D-Day is tomorrow, folks

On Tues, you lose... if you're not encrypted with a TLS cert (which are free, by the way)

Google Chrome users who visit unencrypted websites will be confronted with warnings from tomorrow.

The changes will come for surfers using the latest version of Google Chrome, version 68. Any web page not running HTTPS with a valid TLS certificate will show a "Not secure" warning in the Chrome address bar from version 68 onwards. The warning will apply both to internet-facing websites and intranet sites accessed through Chrome, which has approximately 60 per cent market share.

Google Chrome 68 http only site warning

In Chrome 68, the address box will display “Not secure” for all HTTP pages.

The Chrome update is designed to spur sites still stuck on HTTP to move over to HTTPS, as Google explained back in February. The web has made great strides in that direction of late but much work is yet to be done.

Security luminary Troy Hunt is developing a site called whynohttps to coincide with the Chrome 68 launch. The site will list the world’s largest websites that don’t do HTTPS by default.

Hunt and his colleague Scott Helme are looking to list HTTPS laggard sites by industry sector, a task they'd like some help in automating, as well as country. Hunt explained in a Twitter update: "For people offering support on this, I've sorted the country data, but what I really need now is data on the category of the site. Is there any service that says 'Baidu is a search engine, Fox News is media, etc'?"

The majority (542K) of the top one million sites do not redirect to HTTPS and will therefore be labelled as insecure from tomorrow onwards, Cloudflare warned.

Running secure sites is not only for the big boys and is not necessarily expensive. Letsencrypt certs are free. Aside from the security benefits of preventing pages from being tampered while in transit, HTTPS has commercial benefits for site owners too. Both browsers and search bots favour HTTPS sites.

Although Chrome is the first mainstream browser to affix high-visibility warnings system to non-HTTPS websites, it's likely that Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla will follow suit. ®

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