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Google Chrome Will Now Show HTTPS As The Default Browser URL

An upcoming change to Google Chrome might actively push the already receding HTTP address into irrelevancy.

Google's software designers and engineers are hard at work, making new tweaks to their web browser Chrome's omnibox (colloquially known as the address bar). What those tweaks essentially boil down to is pushing the HTTPS builds of websites to the forefront, and completely foregoing any and all HTTP addresses.

For our not so tech-savvy readers the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP for short, used to display websites and their contents. The function, at least a highly simplified rendition of it, resembles that of a post man's. The HTTP conveys a message between the user wishing to delve into online content, and the server that has to display it. It's always spotted at the start of a web URL, starting off as "http://". Or, more accurately, it used to.

Most, if not all, recent websites start with HTTPS, as opposed to HTTP. Even most major websites have migrated to using the former instead of the latter. Why? Well, it's that final S that seals the deal. HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is an extension of HTTP that acts as a safer version of online surfing. Drawing on the post man metaphor again, the messenger could previously be held at gunpoint and have valuable information extracted from him. This is because HTTP transmissions aren't encrypted in any way, making it easier for hackers and the like to siphon off personal information. Encryption, however, means that the post man now has armor to protect himself. Outside parties can no longer listen through the keyhole.

Prior to this announcement and its eventual implementation, if asked to visit a website, Chrome would first bounce users onto the HTTP version, and then immediately redirect them to HTTPS builds if they were available. The reasons for this were practical. HTTP had been the dominating URL transmitter for years, and most websites had yet to shift to HTTPS. However, the time for playing catch-up is over.

Online security has become a big issue in modern times, and the average surfer is much more aware of information theft. Meeting these new standards set by users as well as maintaining a reliable image means that Chrome had best begin showing HTTPS as the primary build instead of the other way around. Speculation has arisen, however, that such changes will mean that certain websites with only HTTP builds have the potential of being rendered inaccessible, only showing up as broken links.

While these concerns aren't unfounded, such an update has yet to come. It's very likely that Google's development team is implementing workarounds for such problems. Overall, this feels like a solid decision, and a new step towards online user safety.


Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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