By Daniella Hudson – Edited by Cora Wei Wolfinger|www.amdlawgroup.com
One year into the law school has taught me to become a savvier user of the internet. I have a newfound appreciation for privacy and the rules of the internet. Gone are the days of just blindly accepting website terms and conditions without reading and understanding them. I realize that it goes beyond getting an inbox filled with spam content and goes to the heart of internet privacy. Google, the self-proclaimed and widely verified as the largest and most used search engine in the world, has taken a recent step to help with my effort to retain my coveted privacy.
When I first heard about Google’s new update I struggled to figure out how this would affect me. I normally glossed over the information such as the terms and conditions or skipping to the ‘Accept’ button. I normally did not pay attention to the technical jargon expressed. One year of law school cured me of this unfortunate habit. The new Google update is something we should all take note of, and maybe this time pay attention to the website terms and conditions.
The Secure Socket Overlay (SSL), was created in 1995 by Netscape. The software was built to combat the growing unease about internet security. In theory, SSL would encrypt the information that was sent between a website and the web server, thereby creating a safety net against any hackers trying to access private information. In other words, it would create a kind of shield that would conceal the date from nefarious parties trying to seek it out. This allows businesses to protect customer’s personal information and transactions, allowing for the businesses reputation to flourish.
Now back to the Google Update. After events like the European Union’s GDPR, they are taking the necessary steps to enhance their internet security. This new update will put them one step closer to overall security that they’ve been reaching for since 2014’s HTTPS Everywhere campaign. Google is steadfast in trying to ensure that consumers are as safe as possible on the internet by protecting users of the dangers of websites with personal information.
Starting this month Google is implementing stricter guidelines that start and end with whether a website is using an SSL Certificate. Google’s new SSL requirement will make it that any website without an SSL will be marked an unsafe in Chrome. To put it simply if your website doesn’t have an SSL Certificate, users will no longer be able to access it using Chrome and will deem a website to be unsafe. You may think, ‘well that’s fine they can just use Firefox or Internet Explorer to get to your website’, but think again. Once a user sees that your website has been marked unsafe they won’t trust, and it won’t matter what search engine they use. The consumers will see your website as a security breach waiting to happen, and you’ll be lucky if anyone provides with even a simple email address or birthdate.
If a website is handling sensitive data, like consumer’s address or credit information, an SSL Certificate is key and extremely necessary. The whole concept of the software is to protect websites from cyber-criminals who want to steal consumer data. You might be wondering about websites like blogs that don’t engage in things like consumer transactions; well it doesn’t matter, having an SSL Certificate is just as important for them as any other website.
However, the software comes at a cost. SSL Certificates are not free, although the prices do vary depending on the type, someone running a blog for their grandmother’s old recipes might not be willing to shell out for it. Regardless, there could be unforeseen consequences in not having an SSL Certificate in light of Google’s new update. Consumers may no longer want to chance a visit to a website, despite not providing personal information, because Google marks it unsafe.
Thinking about all the technical jargon surrounding SSL Certificates is something all website owners are going to have to consider sooner rather than later if Google has its way. If you want to avoid your website being marked as unsafe and having consumers avoid you, decisions will have to be made. Whatever you decide to do, you’re going to have to think about what consumer visits to your website mean to you, and how much you’re willing to pay to keep them coming.