Starting in January 2017, Google will be making aggressive changes in an effort to increase SSL adoption on the internet.
What is SSL?
SSL is a technology that encrypts communications to and from your website. When you use SSL, the beginning of your web address changes from http: to https: and many browsers show a green lock icon by the web address.
What is driving this change?
Several years ago, people surfed the internet from private access points such as their office or home landlines. However, with more mobile devices in use and the widespread usage of public WIFI, security is becoming increasingly more important. People are now shopping and surfing while riding transit, sitting in coffee shops or in hotels. Using public WIFI opens the door for unscrupulous hackers to monitor what you're doing and steal your information.
By putting your entire website behind SSL, it protects your visitors/members by:
- preventing eavesdropping on your internet communications, increasing your privacy
- blocking many types of hacks and security intrusions
- verifying to the visitor that your website is really you, and not some "spoof" that was set up to trick people
Why is Google Pushing This Change?
Google wants everything on the web encrypted (protected by SSL) because it provides for a safer visitor experience while also allowing them to roll-out new features and functionality that requires this level of security. For example, wider usage and applications for location tracking, etc.
Can Google Force me to use SSL?
Not exactly but they can make it so your visitors/members demand that you use it. Google's Chrome browser will start to indicate sites that are not using SSL by adding the following in the address bar:
Google has said that they eventually intend for the padlock to turn red. Eventually, they may make the message even more noticeable. With Chrome having 53% market share according to the August 2016 projection of web tracker Net Market Share, one can expect that other browsers will follow suit.