The latest version of Google's Chrome web browser (Chrome 68) represents another step the search giant is making toward a more secure web: the browser now marks HTTP sites as “Not Secure.”
The change comes three and a half years after the Chrome Security Team launched the proposal to mark all HTTP sites as affirmatively non-secure, so as to make it clearer for users that HTTP provides no data security.
When websites are loaded over HTTP, the connection is not encrypted, meaning not only that attackers on the network can access the transmitted information, but also that they can modify the contents of sites before they are served to the user.
HTTPS, on the other hand, encrypts the connection, meaning that eavesdroppers can’t access the transmitted data and that user’s information remains private.
Google, which has been long advocating the adoption of HTTPS across the web, is only marking HTTP pages with a gray warning in Chrome. Later this year, however, the browser will display a red “Not Secure” alert for HTTP pages that require users to enter data.
The goal, however, is to incentivize site owners to adopt HTTPS. For that, Google is also planning on removing the (green) “Secure” wording and HTTPS scheme from Chrome in September 2018.
This means that the browser will no longer display positive security indicators, but will warn on insecure connections. Starting May 1, Chrome is also warning when encountering certificates that are not compliant with the Chromium Certificate Transparency (CT) Policy.
“To ensure that the Not Secure warning is not displayed for your pages in Chrome 68, we recommend migrating your site to HTTPS,” Google tells website admins.
According to Google’s Transparency Report, HTTPS usage has increased considerably worldwide, across all platforms: over 75% of pages are served over an encrypted connection on Chrome OS, macOS, Android, and Windows. The same applies to 66% of pages served to Linux users.
To help site admins move to HTTPS, the Internet giant has published a migration guide that includes recommendations and which also addresses common migration concerns such as SEO, ad revenue and performance impact.
In addition to marking HTTP sites as Not Secure, Chrome 68 includes patches for a total of 42 vulnerabilities, 29 of which were reported by external researchers: 5 High severity flaws, 19 Medium risk bugs, and 5 Low severity issues.
The 5 High risk issues include a stack buffer overflow in Skia, a heap buffer overflow in WebGL, a use after free in WebRTC, a heap buffer overflow in WebRTC, and a type confusion in WebRTC.
The remaining flaws included use after free, same origin policy bypass, heap buffer overflow, URL spoof, CORS bypass, permissions bypass, type confusion, integer overflow, local user privilege escalation, cross origin information leak, UI spoof, local file information leak, request privilege escalation, and cross origin information leak.