The new year may start off with a bang for some website owners, especially those with images, PDFs, documents, or other downloadable files that are stored on insecure hosts.
This coming January 2021, Google’s Chrome browser will begin to block any insecure content when it’s mixed into a secure website.
In other words, if a website is secured with an SSL certificate but it includes images, documents, or other files that are stored on an insecure external source, that content will be blocked.
The increased security will only affect websites secured with SSL certificates that include content that is not secured. Websites that can be accessed by typing http:// instead of httpS:// will not see their mixed or insecure content blocked.
Although the changes to Chrome began with warnings about insecure content in 2020, that content will become blocked as Chrome browsers update to version 86 in early 2021.
For website owners who offer downloadable PDF’s, E-books, or other content that is not stored securely, visitors will see messages stating that, for example, “file.doc can’t be downloaded securely” with a button labeled “Discard” to allow the site to continue loading without the blocked content.
That means visitors interested in downloading free or purchased content that is not stored securely will instead receive a warning message. This could impact online sales for website owners selling digital products.
According to Google, the change is meant to protect end-users from privacy and security issues, such as the ability for eavesdroppers to snoop on insecurely stored or downloaded financial information.
Although there are workarounds for end users, it is unwise to override the new settings and allow the blocked content to load. Instead, website users should move any insecure content to secure hosts where it is better protected.
More information is available on Google’s blog, where Google Security Team member Joe DiBlasio posted a blog entry titled “Protecting Users from Insecure Downloads in Google Chrome”.
If your website has content that could be potentially blocked and you are interested in resolving the issue, please contact the GreenCup Digital team for help ensuring your customers have access to all of your content, including your digital downloads.