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New security update is a potential threat to websites

Posted: January 6th 2017

A security update which is new for 2017 on Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox could potentially jeopardise websites’ performances if they do not meet the correct requirements.

Your website’s domain needs to be secure, and having an SSL certificate on the domain name (which will be seen as ‘HTTPS’) makes it secure. Websites which have ‘HTTP’ at the start of their domain are more likely to be at risk of being branded non-secure and penalised by search engines in their ranking processes.

Given that 42% of UK browsing is carried out with Chrome and 10% with Firefox, this new requirement is crucial if you want your website to be successful and to reach the right people. Furthermore, Chrome now has a substantially higher amount of users than Microsoft Internet Explorer, so the overall impact if your website does not meet the requirements will be substantial.

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Who is this update most crucial for?

It is crucial for everyone, but websites which retain information from visitors should look at these updates in the most detail – for example: banking websites, online stores and recruitment websites. The information they hold is highly confidential, so users need to know that the websites are as secure as they can possibly be or they may not feel safe sharing their personal information with them.

Some companies, such as PayPal, have made it mandatory to have SSL certificates as of September last year, making it even more vital for any website with an online store (especially those with PayPal set up as a payment option) to have one too.

How are Chrome and Firefox going to do things differently?

These websites are both changing their security policies as of 2017, flagging up all websites without HTTPS connections as ‘not secure’. Firefox, however, is planning on going the extra mile and eventually completely blocking the access to any unencrypted HTTP websites.

If your website is unencrypted, this development (for both Chrome and Firefox) will result in a decrease of audience engagement, website credit and an overall decline in the site’s rankings on search engines such as: Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

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How heavily will this affect search engine rankings?

While there is a definite ranking benefit to having an encrypted HTTPS site, Google says that the benefit is currently only minor, or a ‘very lightweight signal’ within the overall ranking algorithm. Some other signals, such as high quality content and website responsiveness, carry more weight and have more impact at the moment. However, Google has also stated that it ‘may decide to strengthen the signal’ in the future as they would like to ‘encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS in order to keep the web a safe place for everyone’.

How do I make sure my website is performing as safely and successfully as possible?

To make sure your website avoids being marked as ‘not secure’ on Chrome or Firefox, you will need to buy an SSL certificate and add it onto your domain name. You can purchase and install your SSL certificate through your hosting provider.

If you have any further questions regarding the security of your website, a member of our development team would be happy to talk you through your queries – you can contact them through this page.

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