What is the Google Chrome “Not Secure” Security Warning?

You may have recently noticed a subtle change in the appearance of the address bar in Chrome. The Google Chrome security warning is undergoing a series of changes.

SSL Secure Website Warning on Firefox

Way back in 2014, Google began testing sites for HTTPS in consideration for use as part of their ranking criteria. At the time of this testing, it was estimated that less than 1% of sites used HTTPS. Fast forward two years later and the number has grown to slightly more than 30%. Why? Google made HTTPS part of their ranking criteria, and web masters took notice.

Late last year, Google announced they were changing the way their browser indicated the relative security of a website.

A More Secure Web

icon showing Lieberman website is secure

This icon alerts the visitors to the website that their connection is secure.

It’s no secret that Google’s long-term goal is a more secure web. Sites that utilize encryption provide a secure connection between a server and a browser. Google wants to encourage this kind of security, particularly for sites collecting data such as credit card numbers.

Chrome’s latest update (aka Chrome 56) is marked with a number of changes and features designed to improve the search experience for all users. The backside of this update is interesting mostly to web developers, but the general public benefits from it, too. One of the more obvious changes is the icon found in the address bar that indicates site security.

Google Chrome Security Warning

You may not have paid much attention to it before, but the symbol just to the left of the website address gives you an indication of just how secure a particular site is. In previous versions of Chrome, this symbol might have been a green lock, a yellow warning triangle, or a lock with a red X on it. As it turns out, humans are pretty good at symbol reading, but not so great at interpreting these symbols after a while.

The reason for this is based in brain biology. We’re hardwired to notice things that are different or threatening. This same mechanism is responsible for our ability to ignore repetitive images. In short, after seeing the security icons so many times, their message loses its meaning.

The new look of Google Chrome security warning

website is not secure icon in google chrome

Web security will always be an important topic for Google, and the 30% HTTPS adoption rate is an indication that webmasters are listening. But let’s not forget, there are nearly 70% of sites still not using HTTPS. Making HTTPS a ranking signal (one of literally hundreds) tells us that Google thinks it’s important. Now Google is striving to make the public more aware of the importance of site security.

In the Chrome 56 update, an HTTP site is currently marked with a neutral icon. If you click on that icon, you will get a dropdown box that says, “Your connection to this site is not fully secure.”

In January 2017, Google began to place more accurate icons in the address bar. Secure sites are marked with a green lock and the word “Secure.” Unsecured sites will still employ the neutral icon, but with the words, “Not Secure” next to it.

Google security non-SSL dropdown

Eventually, the neutral icon will change to a red triangle next to the words, “Not Secure.”

Changing the Google Chrome security warning to something more obvious serves two purposes. First, the image change wakes up that area of the brain that’s (likely) been ignoring the symbol in the address bar. Secondly, adding words to the new symbol further engages the brain to recognize the message.

My site isn’t HTTPS – what do I do?

It’s in your best interest to move your website to HTTPS, particularly if you want some SEO love. We’ve tackled this topic on the LTnow blog, so the information is easily accessible. But if you’re not sure how to do the steps outlined in that post, you can opt to let Lieberman Technologies do it for you. We offer a secure hosting package that includes an IP address, SSL, and SSL maintenance. That way, you can offer your visitors a secure HTTPS experience that will earn a green “secure” lock icon!