Be aware of Google Chrome's new security warnings... and how to stop your website being affected
Date: October 2017
From October 2017, web browsers such as Google Chrome - the most widely used browser on both desktop PCs and mobiles - changed the way it handles any website that doesn't use a security certificate.
A security certificate encrypts information sent by the user to and from a website. You'll know if your website has one as its address will start with https:// instead of http:// and you'll see a padlock icon at the top of the browser, near the web address.
If your site doesn't have a security certificate, it's likely that you've visited other sites that do, particularly if you use online banking or have entered your credit card details on a website when making an online purchase.
These changes are part of a trend across the Internet to progress user privacy and website security.
Google Chrome already shows a warning message whenever a user views an unsecure page that includes a password or credit card input box. As of October, a page with any type of input box triggers the security warning... if that page is viewed without a security certificate.
This means that your website, should it include an enquiry form, a search box or a login area, will be affected.
While your website will continue to function correctly, the new warning is likely to worry your visitors - after all, as society becomes ever more vigilant over online security, a nasty-looking warning showing the words "Not Secure" will do nothing to encourage visitors remain on your website.
What should you do?
You do have the choice of doing nothing but this seems unwise given that Chrome and other browsers will penalise you and, worse still, favour your competitors if they have embraced the need for change.
So, unless removing all online forms from your site is an option, the only course of action is to ask your web developer to install a security certificate on your site, thus enabling it to be viewed with an https:// address.
This ensures that visitors are not deterred by "Not Secure" warning messages flashing up in their browser. And there are other benefits too.
If your competitors choose to run their sites without a security certificate, your site will appear safer in the eyes of would-be customers, which may boost online sales and enquiries. And there will be a knock-on benefit in terms of your search engine ranking too, as Google favours secure websites with a certificate.
Overall, installing a website security certificate demonstrates credibility, reassures visitors and, above all else, guarantees the privacy of your visitors’ data while it’s in transit.