The world of tech is quite bizarre. Even to a techie. Definitely to a non-techie. As a resident Luddite (non-techie), I want to spend some time this month sharing things I just happened to stumble upon.
“This site is not safe!”
Depending on the firewalls or security protections you have, you might see this error message as frequently as I. And if you are like me, when you land on a site that immediately generates a ‘this site is not safe” message, you might scramble out of there – say faster than a speeding train. Frankly, I have no idea what generates a ‘this site is not safe’ message; however, I always defer to the knowledge of the programming gods or internet wizards or whomever in the tech world warns me to be careful.
The other day, I decided to play Curious George (remember the monkey?) and went forward anyway. Here is what I found. The URL of the site I wanted to reach started with HTTP. No biggie, right? Every website in the world starts with an h combination, then two forward slashes and then the website name.
Let me suggest you check your entire website URL. If you don’t see HTTPS at the beginning, you want to upgrade your HTTP to HTTPS. Immediately. This is not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Speak to your tech guy or read and follow this easy-to-understand article.)
Google decided the internet would be more secure with SSL (secure sockets layer) certificates. Too techie? HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. In other words, it makes your website, your gathering of information through the website and the transactions you may process super-secure by encrypting all that data, which makes it much harder to be hacked.
This month celebrates International Women’s Day
So, in that spirit, let me share a cool story. The person at Google who came up with this brilliant idea to move from no ‘es’ to ‘es’ is known as the Security Princess. Parisa Tabriz. Yeah, a woman. Whose job is to lead a team of 30 and hack Google. Specifically, the Google Chrome browser part. (Whoa. That’s the part we all use!) A professional hacker AND a female one at that came up with brilliant ideas to help ALL humans play safely on the internet. And here’s the best part. She was just 31 years old when she had that epiphany!
In 2014, Tabriz started an effort to drive the adoption of HTTPS on the web. In 2015, less than 50% of traffic seen by Chrome was over HTTPS, and by 2019, the percentage of HTTPS traffic had increased to 73-95% across all platforms. Now you and I both know that changing all humans’ minds is both a complex and difficult job.
And what is that common refrain? ‘When you’ve got a tough job with slim odds for success, always give it to a woman. Because she will ALWAYS find a way.’
Here’s how the Security Princess did it
She preyed upon our desire to be near the top of the list. So, over time, if you were missing that ‘es’ at the end of your HTTP, it meant you got shoved to the bottom of the list and earmarked as not safe. Those with an ‘es’ automatically rolled closer to the top of the page. What also happened was this new level of Google security birthed a new breed of firewall protections. HTTP was unsafe; HTTPS was safer.
Why should you care about HTTPS?
Imagine me (or someone like me) as your customer. My firewall security program warns me your site is not safe. I haven’t the foggiest what kind of safe you are NOT and don’t have time to investigate. As a common Luddite, I immediately back away because I heed warnings. Ultimately, you lose a hot prospect you never knew you had. Can your business afford to lose hot prospects – just because you’re not essed? I didn’t think so. If you don’t have the bare minimum of HTTPS, please grab your web guy, shake him upside down and demand an ‘es.’
Want to know other stuff?
I am sharing this story because many of us have no idea about what we have no idea about. And today, in the online digital world we play in, ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. That is why Kim is hosting two “Ask Me Anything” Tech sessions. She and I both have found, that when it comes to stuff outside our lanes, there are far too many things we don’t think about or know.
Most times, the best way to learn is to throw a bunch of truth-seekers in a room together, bounce around some ideas and ask some basic questions. The details for her first session are here. I hope you can clear your schedule to join her. I promise you. It will be time well spent.