Reddit, the “front page of the internet” according to the many millions of its users and among the 10 most popular websites in the United States will officially switch to total HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure) encryption as a default come the 29th of June. While the website is already available over an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) connection in offering encryption to users who demanded it, the new system will ensure that all connections are redirected to the SSL encrypted version of the website by default.
“We’re ready to enforce that everyone use a secure connection with reddit,” wrote Ricky Ramirez, Reddit’s systems administrator, in a short post on the website.
A spokesperson for Reddit added in a statement to Security Magazine, saying: “We genuinely value the privacy of the people who trust Reddit as a platform for open communication,” the spokesman said, highlighting the fact that by “using HTTPS to communicate” Reddit will have the means to safeguard users “from someone watching their connection (such as an ISP or a Wi-Fi hotspot provider), or reading the plain-text contents of their browser communication.”
Reddit joins the ranks of many major websites
Internet giants such as Facebook, Wikipedia and Google have already made the transition to encryption with their websites. They aren’t alone, with:
- Google even offering a quick boost in search rankings to those websites that use SSL, favoring them over similar websites which aren’t encrypted.
- The U.S. Government recently mandated all of its publicly accessible websites to switch to HTTPS encryption by 2016.
- Search giant Bing announced recently that it would encrypt all search traffic on the search engine by default this summer.
- Netflix also announced plans to add HTTPS encryption to the entire website before the end of 2015.
The rush for encryption and why HTTPS matters
Encryption is now a bone of contention for bragging rights among major tech companies who are increasingly pro-consumer with constantly increasing concerns with online privacy. These are the views of Bill Budington, a software engineer and security consultant at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“After the Snowden revelations we’ve seen a lot of companies who want to protect their customers and they want the good publicity that comes with that,” Budington noted.
“Without encryption, you can see what people are streaming and what they are watching, all of this is possible if you don’t have a secure HTTPS connection,” he added.
With expansive surveillance a reality in today’s world, HTTPS is a simple yet vital tool for safeguarding user privacy. While it can’t keep your ISP (Internet Service Provider) from knowing the websites you visit, HTTPS encryption will keep malicious hackers and other prying eyes from reading or looking into your internet traffic. HTTPs will also help defend against attacks such as session hijacking from malicious hackers.