October 1st, 2019
If you wanted to send a secret message by mail, would you rather send it in an envelope, or on a postcard? If you send it on a postcard, anyone who saw the postcard on its way to the recipient could read the message, or even make changes to what’s written.
Encryption on a website functions as an envelope, protecting information passed between your website and its visitors so it can’t be snooped on or changed. It’s what keeps your visitors safe from bad actors who may try to alter your site’s content, misdirect traffic, spy on open Wi-Fi networks, and inject malware or tracking. You achieve encryption on a website by installing an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This certificate ensures that the data passed between a web server and a browser remains private.
To kick off National Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re highlighting something that many website owners don’t realize—a single page that isn’t encrypted could potentially be used to gain access to the rest of the website. To avoid this, you need encryption on your entire website, not just for pages that are collecting credit card numbers or log-in info. Even unencrypted landing pages that redirect to an HTTPS page can pose risks. A single unprotected page can become a backdoor for bad actors to snoop on the rest of the site. How do you ensure your entire website is encrypted?
Use a top-level domain that is HSTS preloaded.
The HSTS preload list tells modern browsers which websites to only load over an encrypted connection. The fastest way to get on this list is to use a top-level domain that’s already on the HSTS preload list, such as .app, .dev, or .page. Any website on those extensions gets the security benefits of HSTS preloading from day one, so all you need to do is install your SSL certificate.
Add your website to the HSTS preload list yourself.
Websites can be individually added to the HSTS preload list by the website owner at hstspreload.org. Keep in mind this can be a slow process because the list is manually built into the browser. That means updates to the list are made as new browser releases come out, which can take months to occur for all browsers.
More people are creating websites than ever before, with 48 percent of the U.S. population planning to create one. To help make building your secure website a bit easier, we’ve teamed up with some of our registrar partners, who are offering free SSL certificates during the month of October. We’re also kicking off a video series where existing creators will share their tips for launching a website. You can check them out at safe.page/buildsecurely.