Opinion: The Importance of Website Security in Online News

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Times of San Diego is a secure news site, but Fox News is not as shown in these images from a Chrome browser.

By Chris Jennewein

Over the past month, you may have noticed the little green lock icon — or lack of it — next to the URL in your Chrome browser. It’s an important step forward in browsing security, and not every news site has complied.

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Secure sites use HTTPS, or “hypertext transfer protocol secure,” to ensure that communications over the Internet — your browsing habits and the data you enter — are fully encrypted. Regular connections use simply HTTP, a protocol which dates back nearly three decades.

Times of San Diego began implementing HTTPS a year ago. It was hard work, and occasional glitches still occur. Just last week, for example, a series of insecure ads from one of our networks caused the green lock to vanish from many pages.

Google has been encouraging publishers to adopt HTTPS for the past two years. A “not secure” warning, which began appearing in late July, is the latest incentive for this. Another is that secure sites rank higher in Google’s search results.

The ranking matter may be partly to blame for President Trump’s recent Twitter rants against Google. His media favorite, Fox News, is not a secure site and would presumably rank lower in searches.

Interestingly some other national conservative sites are not secure, including TheFederalist.com, but so are some well-known newspaper sites like LATimes.com. In fact, only about 40 percent of websites use HTTPS.

As an independent local news website, Times of San Diego is committed to providing a safe and secure browsing experience. That means investing in HTTPS even if it means we can’t take advantage of all advertising networks. The easy out wouldn’t be right for our readers.

If you like Times of San Diego, and appreciate what we do to make browsing safe, please continue to read our site, sign up for our free daily newsletter and consider making a small monthly donation through our secure PressPatron and PayPal links.


Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.

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