People keep receiving dismal news on internet security these days. In 2020, data breaches rose by almost 20% between January and September. Hence, users are increasingly aware of how vital data encryption is to protect their data. A significant development is making the web much safer in an encouraging sign.
When you visit most websites, you might notice a green lock just beside its address. It’s an indication that the page you’re on has reached you through HTTPS, the secure web protocol, different from the plain HTTP of old times.
However, unsecured connections, interactions, and sites continue to haunt users. Even companies issue policies instructing how they must deal with users’ data. Sadly, not everything works out with proper encryption, which is something that many entities might still disregard.
You are still under scrutiny
Despite the introduction of HTTPS, certain entities have the means to watch over your shoulder. The fact that you’ve visited a particular website isn’t hidden by HTTPS. However, it ensures that those prying on you find it harder to gain access to the information you read or post on the net. It’s also guaranteed that you get to see what its creators want you to when you are on a website.
With no encryption, repressive institutions or any malicious entity may replace the content on a certain webpage with their content. Furthermore, data encryption mistakes can simplify hackers’ attempts to steal confidential data. Thus, it is important to choose encryption and implement it successfully. If not, you leave your organization or your personal device susceptible to various attacks.
The original HTTPS protocol was released in 1995. Web encryption has therefore been around for quite some time now. Companies now could protect your payment details when you made online payments and prove that the merchants you were purchasing from were genuine. The technology being used was Secure Socket Layer or SSL in short. However, SSL’s successor, Transport Layer Security (TLS), came to be used beyond just credit card payments years later.
It’s because most website owners saw no benefit in encrypting everything. However, with criminal elements using increasingly sophisticated technology to steal unencrypted passwords and states altering websites, wider use of encryption assumed greater significance.
With time, prominent sites like Facebook, the New York Times, Wikipedia, and others have opted for HTTPS. In late 2015, Google took the initiative and declared that it would favor sites with HTTPS protocol over those that still didn’t. Thus, it is obvious why providers go for approved encryption standards.
The challenges and the road ahead
Encryption is a critical component for safeguarding sensitive information. It includes many details that could be exploited. After all, data breaches are unforgiving: they either happen, or they do not. And once they do, it is difficult for companies to retain their reputation. Regaining customers’ trust will be a long journey. Some of them might even choose one’s competitors. Thus, if businesses want to compete in any industry, protecting their clients’ data should be a top priority.
It was found in 2014 that even the HTTPS protocol has certain limitations. The flaw called Heartbleed had made it vulnerable. Apart from this technical issue, another cause of worry is the protocol’s dependence on certificate authorities like Let’s Encrypt. Supposing hackers take control of Let’s Encrypt, they may hijack certificates or even issue false ones. People, therefore, aren’t as protected as they feel they are.
Considering that even HTTPS cannot cover everything, you will be wise to take some extra precautions. For instance, a Virtual Private Network refers to an application that encrypts your internet traffic and safeguards your connection to each website. Tools like Atlas VPN also hide your IP address, making you more anonymous online and making sure that none can track your location. It is one of the best solutions to data interception and theft due to the lack of encryption on websites and networks.
With cybercrime on the rise and states looking for more control over user data, encryption assumes greater significance. It will continue playing a role, and we already see users turning to technologies like end-to-end encryption. The latter means that not even the service providers can see the traffic you initiate. Thus, always pay attention to the encryption situation on each website you visit. Also, be sure to check how certain companies safeguard your data from breaches and other violations.