In 2014, it has been the year of security for the Internet. Put more correctly, it has been a year of insecurity — very prominent vulnerabilities in major pieces of software, hacks that compromised millions of credit card numbers and lots of activity involving network intrusions.
One part that hasn’t received a lot of attention is the state of insecurity of many Web sites. Since the creation of the modern commercial Internet in the 90’s, sites that have transacted in credit card or other sensitive data have always had a “padlock” symbol in the browser, indicating that the conversation between users and the site were encrypted so no one else could easily see the contents of the conversation.
In the past few years, mostly in response to high profile incidents, major companies have begun encrypting email, search and social media sites – since they contain information that is private in the same way that credit cards are private.
But thanks to an effort underway, it looks like all sites will be encrypted in the near future. Right now, to encrypt, you need to buy a certificate and renew it sometimes yearly. It is a manual process that is annoying to work through. Let’s Encrypt, a non-profit funded by Mozilla, Cisco and others, promises a free and automated process. If that happens — and that new technology gets integrated into all major browsers, you’ll see most sites choose to encrypt and that will mean a safer Internet for everyone. Stay tuned!