When you first started to hear about social networks the last thing that you were worried about was your security. The internet was a different place back then and we did not realize how unsafe some of the things that we were doing truly were. You would post your personal information anywhere and you would use the same exact password on multiple web sites. You might think to yourself that as long as you did the basics when it came to security that nothing else mattered.
Even people who should have known better felt this way. The people who programmed and created the web sites as well as the people who ran the servers also did not take security as seriously as they should have. As a matter of fact it has only been in the past few years that the security of the internet has come to the forefront of thought to most people. In the past people would either not trust it at all or trust it too much.
You can bet that the creators of what we now know as the internet would have made the design very different if they knew what it would become. But since that cannot happen and there is not going to be a fundamental shift in how the internet works anytime soon we have workarounds. These are different add ons or hacks that we do to keep our information safe. One of these workarounds is what is known as HTTPs. In this article I will talk about what HTTPS is and why the popular social networks that are out there are only just now taking it seriously.
What is HTTPs?
HTTPs (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) or also known as TLS (Transport Layer Security) is the method that we use to securely send data over the internet. When you usually send data over the internet and the web site has the normal HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) designation in front then that means the data can be seen in plain text to anyone who is peeking. This is usually done in what is known as a man in the middle attack but there are other ways to see this data as well. As you can imagine, anyone seeing that data can use it against you if they wanted to. Any web site that you visited during that time would be compromised.
The way that the data that is being sent through HTTPS is secured is by a layer of encryption. Encryption is of course the art of obfuscating the data so that no one else would be able to read it without a special key. So people who tried still could possibly intercept the data that you are seeing but it would be useless. Without the key to be able to read the data then all they would see would be a bunch of gibberish. So now that you know what HTTPs is let’s see why it has all of the sudden become popular with the social networks that are out there.
Why do companies such as Facebook and Twitter need HTTPS?
You might be thinking to yourself that web sites that you visit such as Facebook and Twitter are not a big security threat to you. Sure you are glad that your bank uses HTTPs but why does a company like Facebook have to? Well the first reason is because they want to be able to protect your password. Not only do people use the same password in multiple places but also you want to keep others from being able to post data in your place by using your information.
You might be thinking to yourself that the password situation is obvious so why do they need that much protection on the rest of the web page? This is because even though you might not know it, when you are talking to friends on Facebook you are releasing data that can come back to haunt you someday. You never know what the bad guys can use against you. It might be something as simple as an innocent conversation about the bar down the block from you. With that information they can figure out where you live. Once the bad guys know where you live they can start to look up even more information about you. This is why HTTPS can be used on all of the pages of Facebook now. The company realizes that their business model relies on you sharing data with your friends. If you find out that the data can be compromised or it has been so in the past through Facebook then you will be less likely to share any more. And that hits Facebook in the pocketbook.