Unsecure Content

Chrome has landed their change that allows you to mark unsecure (HTTP) content as insecure or dubious. Visit chrome://flags/#mark-non-secure-as to set the toggle. You can choose to mark as Dubious:


…or as Non-Secure:


The expectation is that eventually one of these modes will be the default for sites that are transferred over insecure protocols like HTTP.

Personally, I’m not really a fan of either piece of iconography; to me, showing the lock at all implies that the site has some amount of security and maybe it’s just not perfect.

I’m hoping that after some transition period, we’ll end up with a more prominent notification that explains what the issue is and why humans might care.

In December of last year, I made the following proposal with tongue only slightly in cheek:

Meet “Nosy”, your HTTP-content indicator:

Of course, Nosy’s got a lot of things to say:


Sites and services need to use secure protocols like HTTPS because users expect it. No, not all users will expect to see the letters HTTPS and probably don’t understand hashes, ciphers, and public key encryption. But they expect that when they visit your site, it was delivered to them unmolested, privately, and as you original designed it. And the only way to realistically ensure that these expectations are met is to use HTTPS.

Update: While the mock screenshot above was never built, Chrome Security’s Lucas Garron wrote the awesome Ugly HTTP Chrome extension, a very simple extension that helps make it much more obvious when you’re on a non-secure site by color-shifting the content of the page itself.

-Eric Lawrence

Published by ericlaw

Impatient optimist. Dad. Author/speaker. Created Fiddler & SlickRun. PM @ Microsoft 2001-2012, and 2018-2022, working on Office, IE, and Edge. Now a SWE on Microsoft Defender Web Protection. My words are my own, I do not speak for any other entity.

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