Visiting U.S. government websites is about to get a little more secure.
In essence, HTTPS encrypts a person’s connection to a website, keeping information exchanged between an HTTPS-enabled site and your computer from the prying eyes of a third party. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation noted when it urged the White House to adopt these measures in April, “Without HTTPS, a person's browsing activity can be monitored by anyone who controls their network or simply uses the same WiFi network.”
The decision comes after three months of public comment, with technical groups, as well as public advocacy organizations like the EFF and ACLU, strongly encouraging HTTPS adoption.
Of course, if you can’t wait a year and a half, or if you plan to visit any sites other than ones that already use HTTPS by default like Google, Twitter, and most banks, you can go ahead and install the free Chrome, Firefox, or Opera extension for HTTPS Everywhere.
Illustration by Jason Reed