W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-webappsec@w3.org > December 2014

Re: Proposal: Marking HTTP As Non-Secure

From: Chris Palmer <palmer@google.com>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:27:45 -0800
Message-ID: <CAOuvq218rKhuxEbbffLUQA+aj4EcbsWiGi=uJM1=qWhvmvHbcA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Monica Chew <mmc@mozilla.com>
Cc: "public-webappsec@w3.org" <public-webappsec@w3.org>, blink-dev <blink-dev@chromium.org>, security-dev <security-dev@chromium.org>, "dev-security@lists.mozilla.org" <dev-security@lists.mozilla.org>
On Thu, Dec 18, 2014 at 12:12 PM, Monica Chew <mmc@mozilla.com> wrote:

> I support the goal of this project, but I'm not sure how we can get to a
> point where showing warning indicators makes sense. It seems that about 67%
> of pageviews on the Firefox beta channel are http, not https. How are
> Chrome's numbers?

Currently, roughly 58% of top-level navigations in Chrome are HTTPS.

> Security warnings are often overused and therefore ignored [1]; it's even
> worse to provide a warning for something that's not actionable. I think we'd
> have to see very low plaintext rates (< 1%) in order not to habituate users
> into ignoring a plaintext warning indicator.

(a) Users are currently habituated to treat non-secure transport as
OK. The status quo is terrible.

(b) What Peter Kasting said: we propose a passive indicator, not a
pop-up or interstitial.

> Lots of site operators don't support HTTPS, in fact some of them (e.g.,
> https://nytimes.com and https://monica-at-mozilla.blogspot.com, which is out
> of my control) redirect to plaintext in order to avoid mixed content
> warnings. I don't think that user agents provided the right incentives in
> this case, and showing a warning 100% of the time to a NYTimes user seems
> like a losing battle.

Again, it's a passive indicator; and, the proposal is to *fix* what
you seem to agree is the wrong incentive.

The NY Times in particular is committed to change and challenges other
news sites to move to HTTPS:


> Why not shift the onus from the user to the site operators?

This isn't about putting an onus on users, it's about allowing users
to at least perceive the reality. And yes, that will put pressure on
some site operators. At the same time, the industry is working to make
HTTPS more usable. These efforts are complementary.
Received on Thursday, 18 December 2014 20:28:17 UTC

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