There is some great news for those who believe in a more secure and more private web.
WordPress, the world’s most popular blogging platform, has announced that all of the millions of users hosting their sites on the wordpress.com servers, will be able to force the use of HTTPS encryption – for free.
HTTPS, usually denoted by the little green padlock in your web browser’s URL bar, can help you feel more confident that the information you are sending and receiving to and from a website is not being snooped upon by unauthorised parties. You can hopefully imagine how that’s essential for confidential information – passwords are an obvious example.
Many sites hosted on wordpress.com – for instance, https://barry.wordpress.com – have been able to take advantage of the HTTPS feature for sometime, but now larger sites which use custom domains will also be able to benefit from the feature.
WordPress announced the new feature in a blog post:
Today we are excited to announce free HTTPS for all custom domains hosted on WordPress.com. This brings the security and performance of modern encryption to every blog and website we host.
Best of all, the changes are automatic – you won’t need to do a thing.
As the EFF points out as part of their Encrypt the Web initiative, strong encryption protects our users in various ways, including defending against surveillance of content and communications, cookie theft, account hijacking, and other web security flaws.
Aside from the security and privacy benefits, Google has recently announced that it is beginning to give precedence to HTTPS-enabled websites above their non-encrypted counterparts.
In my opinion there are good reasons for more and more websites to make the switch to HTTPS. In fact, we need to start thinking that HTTPS should be the default for all websites, rather than the exception. I’m delighted to see wordpress.com making it so easy for its millions of users – and the many who visit those sites – to benefit from the security that encryption provides.
Note: Websites running self-hosted versions of WordPress (downloaded from wordpress.org) are different from the many millions of blogs which run on WordPress.com. WordPress.com, run by Automattic, manages the installation of WordPress for you, and looks after security on your behalf. And now – it’s giving you HTTPS too. Neat!
And yes, you’re not the only one that finds it confusing that one site is called wordpress.com and the other is called wordpress.org. This news report on The Next Web, for instance, seems to have got itself confused as to whether the HTTPS roll-out wlll also benefit those who self-host their own WordPress installation (It won’t).
If you do run a WordPress blog but *don’t* host it on wordpress.com’s servers, then you may wish to explore other options for adding HTTPS to your website, such as the free Let’s Encrypt initiative.