Update: MPC finally got around to renewing their SSL certificate on the 15th May! Alas, however, for mixed content delivery. 🙁
This is 2018, a year where IT infrastructure is constantly under attack, and privacy is king (except when it isn’t, and just you’ve given an app permission to slurp your data and sell it the highest bidder), I’m a very strong advocate of making sure that ALL websites load over SSL by default because any form of input from the client (whether it be form filling – such as a local search engine, for example) will be sent over in plain text which gives anybody the opportunity to sniff the contents of the transmission.
SSL hasn’t had it easy, however. We’ve had companies running certificate authorities compromised, SSL vendors compromised, key encryption algorithms weakened by increasing power of technology forcing everybody to switch to a stronger algorithm, and all manner of things in-between. I’ve seen a lot in the 9 years I’ve been working in the hosting industry, and in the 9 months I’ve been working in e-commerce. I’ve been using SSL on this blog for a considerable amount of time. Whether paid SSL certificates, Let’s Encrypt, cPanel/Comodo issued certificates or through CloudFlare.
I’ve recently ranted (then deleted) about how a BBC Apprentice winner launched their brand new website without SSL, then added SSL but screwed loading assets over the secure connection, and a number of other issues that are super important in modern web site maintenance. I also discovered ANOTHER Apprentice winner not loading their website over SSL by default, and with contact forms that send data over in plain text. So much for that £250,000 investment!
Then, as I was just browsing the ‘net, I suffered problems browsing a major computer vendor’s web site where a third party service they use had an expired SSL certificate, leading to mixed content and warnings galore.
Now I’m stumbling across websites that have SSL, but are using a certificate from a Symantec distrust source which essentially means that anybody who bought a certificate from one of the vendors mentioned in the link prior to certain dates will need to have their certificate re-issued (or if it’s close to expiry, just renew it a little earlier than expected).
Despite the pain in the arse managing SSL brings, it is nevertheless very important. Google will start downranking websites in their search rankings that don’t have it, and the likes of Chrome will eventually display a big unfriendly warning that a site is insecure if you do not load your site over SSL by default. Chrome is still very much the dominant browser on the block right now, so I’d take notice of what they’re planning to do!
I shall give you an example of what I consider to be bad web site management.
So, former employers of mine, MPC (The Moving Picture Company), why has an Academy award-winning (amongst many, many other awards) failed to renew their SSL certificate which is still in place (some 216 days) on their web server? This is sloppy! Just removing it is a better thing to do than leaving an expired certificate in place. I sincerely hope that they do not have any client facing logins off the main moving-picture.com because this would cause me to scream.
On a more positive note, their web server doesn’t accept SSLv3 connections. But that’s perhaps the only good thing I can say about their set-up.
BTW, I did reach out to MPC about this, but to date (about a week now), no response and no action.
So unless MPC does something – and sooner rather than later – when a future of Chrome is released, www.moving-picture.com will display a great big Not Secure message.
If you run a website, blog, or whatever it may be – for crying out loud – take a look at your site’s SSL functionality. Do you even have one? If not, why not? Sort it out right away!
Update: It’s not just MPC that’s got an SSL problem – practically all other than perhaps two or three Soho-based VFX companies don’t have an SSL certificate, or if you attempt to load the site over SSL, uses an invalid common name (e.g. the certificate of another domain). Chrome will be switching on the Not Secure flag in July when Chrome 68 is released. We’re on Chrome 66 at the moment. Time is counting down..
Update on the update: And home.bt.com is another culprit that doesn’t load over SSL by default, and if you try to force it, returns mixed content (e.g. it won’t load certain assets over SSL thus you might as well just treat the whole connection as insecure). Man, this is crazy. If telecoms companies aren’t doing the right thing by default..
For a later blog post: Is Google becoming too dominant? Are Google’s new Gmail security tools proprietary, and will it eventually make existing email standards obsolete? Will RFCs aka “internet standards” be a thing of the past?