Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

WordPress Joins Movement toward HTTPS Encryption

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

WordPress Joins Movement toward HTTPS Encryption

Article excerpt

The popular blogging platform WordPress is about to make its corner of the Internet more secure as it begins to enable encryption by default on 600,000 custom Wordpress.com domains.

The move to embrace HTTPS encryption - the secure form of the Internet protocol HTTP - represents an increasing mainstream embrace of consumer-focused online security. Many major sites, such as Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter, already have HTTPS enabled, and the US government is working to have HTTPS on its sites by the end of 2016.

But even as some of the biggest companies on the Web are moving toward HTTPS, the majority of Internet sites still don't use HTTPS, which privacy advocates say is especially important when users are submitting sensitive data, such as credit card information or a Social Security Number, to a website.

"It protects our users against various issues," a spokesperson for Automattic, WordPress's parent company, said in an e-mail. "This includes defending against surveillance of content and communications, cookie theft, account hijacking, and other web security flaws."

Automattic didn't have a firm date for a complete rollout, but the encryption is currently enabled on about 100,000 of those domains.

Over the past few years, privacy advocates and tech companies have ramped up efforts to expand the use of HTTPS. This past December, the nonprofit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) launched its service Let's Encrypt to provide HTTPS encryption to sites for free. It's providing HTTPS encryption to WordPress.

"Who we're really trying to protect is the people who visit WordPress sites or any other site," said Josh Aas, ISRG's executive director. "The era of HTTP-only needs to end."

Even though HTTPS is becoming more common, it's still up to individuals to check their URL bar for the HTTPS connection, a task even many experts are unlikely to do for each site they visit. …

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