Secure Sockets Layer, also known as SSL, has become an essential security tool for the modern-day Internet user, yet there are still many websites online that don’t use it. However, that may soon be changing. Google has made an announcement that could change the way most websites are secured. This could be especially important for any modern law firm that has a web presence.
SSL is a security measure that keeps third parties from intercepting, viewing and augmenting information sent between an Internet browser and a website. It does this by encrypting the information that’s being sent, making it difficult for a third party to intercept or interfere with that data. This can be essential to maintaining the confidentiality of communications sent to your firm via your website.
If the beginning of a website’s address reads HTTP, then it is not encrypted to protect the data sent by a website to a browser. But if a web address reads HTTPS, it does have this secure encryption. If you use Chrome as your main web browser, you will often see a green lock and text that reads “Secure” in the address bar when viewing sites that use SSL. Websites that do not have SSL usually have a neutral info icon before their web address. Clicking that icon will bring up a message informing the user that the site is not secure, but Google’s latest announcement is going to change that.
In July, Chrome will stop displaying the neutral “info” icon in front of web addresses that do not use SSL. Instead, the browser will display “Not Secure”, notifying users that it may not be safe to use that website. Google, makers of Chrome, made this change due to the increase in HTTPS/SSL adoption. It claims that 81 out of the top 100 websites use encryption now, and they believe that the balance will tipped enough to begin marking HTTP sites as insecure.
For law firms that do not have an SSL encrypted website, this could be a major issue. Clients looking for attorneys may question a firm’s professionalism if a “Not Secure” warning shows up when they visit the website. In addition, Google has also down-ranked websites without SSL since 2015, pushing these websites lower in the search results so users are less likely to find them. This is also an ethics issue, considering that attorneys’ confidentiality obligations require firms to keep their clients’ information as secure as possible. Without SSL, can any law firm truly claim that it is keeping its clients’ information safe? Having reliable and experienced IT professionals working on your firm’s website to make it as secure as possible is probably the best option for any law firm looking to remain at the top of its industry.