HTTPS has always been used for financial and retail websites, and we’ve recently seen it surging in popularity for other websites too. Google made HTTPS the default protocol for Gmail back in January, 2010. Facebook gave its users the option to switch all their traffic over to HTTPS at the start of this year. Twitter followed soon after.
And they did it with good reason. People are spending more and more time using social websites, and as a result there is more personal information transferred over the wire (and air). When websites use plain old HTTP, that personal information can be intercepted while it is being transferred. With the proliferation of wireless networks and the availability of point-and-click hacking tools like Firesheep, the risk of an attack is greater than ever.
Now it is time for third party Facebook apps to offer HTTPS. Many competitions and marketing campaigns require users to enter their name and contact details. That is personal data that should be stored securely and transferred securely.
Facebook are showing leadership on this issue and encouraging application developers to adopt HTTPS. When Facebook users activate ‘secure browsing’, they can no longer access apps and tabs that aren’t available via the secure protocol. If brands want to reach these users through their social media campaigns, they will have to offer the level of security that users expect.
As the screenshots below show, many world class brands are missing out on engagement with their customers. Offering HTTPS doesn’t have to be difficult. SSL Certificates can be purchased for about €40 per year. That is a small price to pay for re-establishing a relationship with your privacy conscious customers on Facebook.