The NOT SECURE warning displayed next to your browser's address bar

Some search engines and some
web browsers display the words
"Not Secure" next to web addresses.
Is this something to be concerned about?

In or around 2018, several web browsers, including Chrome and Firefox, began to display the words "Not Secure" next to many web addresses.

Naturally, in this age of hackers and computer viruses, this little "warning" has caused a panic among many people who surf the web. In most cases, any concern is unnecessary.

The message only means that the site has not installed the military-grade encryption that is necessary if the site is going to receive or display such confidential information as bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or passwords. However, if you are visiting a site which neither asks for, nor processes, such confidential information, such as the site you are reading now, the massage is completely meaningless. Meaningless, and responsible for a lot of unnecessary public fear.

When you go to a web site that needs personal information, such a banking site, a shopping site, or the hospital, you have to address it with https:// .... The letters stand for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- Secure." If you have addressed that confidential site with http:// instead of https://...., you may be automatically transferred to the https version, and see the page get automatically reloaded.

https is the internet protocol that tells the computers at both ends to use the level of encryption necessary for the transmission of sensitive information, such as your personal finances or medical records. The secure site uses what is called an SSL (secure socket layers) certificate, containing a 128-bit encryption code. Since military secrets are also encoded with 128-bit keys, we are assured that our private information is protected.

However, sites which do not collect any personal information, and do not require log-in with User IDs, including personal blogs, most magazine articles, and our own, have nothing that needs to be encrypted. These no-personal-data sites should be addressed with http, rather than https.

The author of a personal blog could, of course, pay the high annual fees to have an SSL certificate, and then the "Not Secure" warning would suddenly go away. This is nothing but blackmail which benefits only the companies that sell the SSL certificates, and also collect the cash again for annual renewal.

A news report said that, on a particular day in July of 2018, about two-thirds of the worldwide web abruptly became tagged as "Not Secure". Here is a opinion: This is as irresponsible as if every bottle of beverage were required to have the warning "poison" on its label, because it is true that some bottles in the world do contain poison.

(For further information about this social phenomenon, see Aesop's Fables, paticularly, the story entitled "The Boy Who Cried Wolf.")

If your browser screen had unlimited space next to the address bar, the software developers might have made it say "Not secure for confidential transactions, and safe otherwise", but, wishing to display only a small tag, they have included only the first two words. We don't know whether they paused for a moment to consider the harm of frightening everyone needlessly.

When you are visiting this site, we hope that you will ignore it.

Better yet, write a letter of protest to your representative in Congress.

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