Online security is a function of a wide range of technologies, from the security of your internet connection to the operating system you use to your chosen browser. And making sure that all of the resources under your control are safe isn’t enough — there’s also the safety of the web sites you’re visiting.
One of the key technologies aimed at ensuring a safe environment is visiting HTTPS-secured sites as often as possible. While that’s not always under your control, you can at least try to stay informed on whether or not a site uses encryption. The latest version of Mozilla’s Firefox browser, Firefox 51, makes it more clear than ever if you’re on a potentially unsafe web page.
In the past, Firefox simply added a green lock icon to designate sites that use HTTPS, with a neutral, or no lock icon, address bar used for sites without encryption. Keeping your eye out for that green icon was your only option when visiting sites that ask you to enter banking information, passwords, and other sensitive information.
Firefox 51, however, will use a gray lock icon with a red slash to indicate non-HTTPS sites whenever a page askes for a password, giving you a more active means to identify potentially unsafe sites. If you click on the “I” icon for that site, you’ll be notified that the site is not secure and that your login information could be handed over to nefarious parties.
Future versions of Firefox will be even more description, as Mozilla indicates on its security blog. At some point, users will start receiving notice of unsecure connections whenever they enter sensitive information such as usernames and passwords. Also, Firefox will eventually start displaying a crossed out gray lock icon on all sites that don’t use HTTPS, not just those that ask for passwords, and Mozilla plans to continue to encourage developers and web site owners to implement HTTPS.
While we users are ultimately responsible for ensuring that we’re only entering sensitive information in the right places, the companies that provide the tools we use can also lend us a hand. Mozilla is doing just that with its plans to both push the continued adoption of HTTPS and keep us informed when we’re on a site that isn’t encrypted.