October 24, 2016
With cyber security concerns on everyone’s mind, it’s increasingly important for businesses to understand what switching from HTTP to HTTPS means for their websites. The transition is a complex undertaking that can take months to successfully complete – but sites risk losing users’ trust and search engine ranking if they don’t.
Bloomberg.com recently invested in the task of switching all sites in its network to HTTPS by default, a process that began over a year ago and required several system updates, both internal and external adjustments, and modifications to display and video ad serving. The benefits of this change include assurance of privacy for our users as they browse our site and a guarantee to users that the content they receive is the exact content we published.
Eric Schvimmer, head of engineering for Bloomberg’s consumer-facing web sites, explains why making the change – which Bloomberg expects to complete by the end of 2016 – benefits users, and why Bloomberg is among a select few major media sites that have implemented the change:
Q: How does moving to HTTPS actually make it safer for users?
A: Two fold: first by having an encrypted session between the user and us via HTTPS it insures that no one can intercept the session and monitor what the user is seeing – this is often called a man in the middle attack.
Second, it provides assurance that our content is not altered between the time we served it and the users’ browsers receive it. I know this one sounds far-fetched, but it has happened to other sites.
Q: Many companies have been doing this over the last year, but why isn’t everyone doing it at this point? Is there a downside? Or, is it just a matter of resources?
A: Actually not as many media companies have completed this as one might expect. The primary reason is that it is difficult, especially since you have to coordinate with many different parties.
This transition involves a great deal of effort and coordination of many different teams within Engineering, Product and Ad Operations. I’m proud of our team, as they have proven yet again our ability to execute against tough challenges.
Q: What is the impact on SEO?
A: Google stated in August 2014 that it would give a “slight ranking boost” to sites that converted; however, no one outside of Google truly knows how much of a boast, if any, will happen.
We would like to acknowledge the efforts of those who preceded us in transitioning to HTTPS and strongly urge other media organizations to join us in creating a safer and more secure web.
– Amanda Cowie | October 14, 2016