Slowly but surely, the web is becoming more secure.
About half of all websites are now encrypted using HTTPS, in a development the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) has labeled a significant milestone.
Both Google and Mozilla now report that at least 50 percent of web traffic from their respective browsers is encrypted with HTTPS, the secure internet protocol that helps protect users from tracking and other malicious activities.
The nonprofit EFF and other privacy advocates have been encouraging wider adoption of HTTPS for years but progress has been relatively slow. Even now, many mainstream websites and services still use the less secure HTTP protocol, or don’t turn on HTTPS for everyone by default.
Even companies like Google, which has been a strong advocate for HTTPS, have challenges in implementing the standard across all their services. The company said last year that 77 percent of requests to its servers, not including YouTube, were encrypted with HTTPS.
But the fact that at least half of all traffic is now encrypted should be heartening to the security industry. Websites that use the less secure HTTP protocol leave users open to malicious tracking, eavesdropping, content injection and other exploits that can be used to steal personal information.
Firefox, Chrome and most major browsers now readily display when a website you’re viewing is secured with HTTPS, which has helped raise awareness to the issue. Unfortunately, if a site you frequent doesn’t use HTTPS, there’s not much you can do, though the EFF makes a browser extension that ensures HTTPS is enabled by default everywhere it’s available.