Experts encourage news websites to use SSL

Society has always had mixed feelings about technology. On one hand, solutions such as analytics have paved the way for greater degrees of personalization and customer engagement. On the other, customers in all sectors have become increasingly concerned about the security and privacy of their data as well as what organizations are doing with it. Web analytics in particular has proven useful for news organizations, as the technology allows them to identify which topics result in the greatest impact. However, as Washington Post reporter Andrea Peterson recently noted, security and privacy advocates say the online visitor's journey should be better protected.

"I've basically been trying to bribe media organizations at this point to turn on SSL," said Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist and a senior policy analyst at the ACLU's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, according to the news source. "I have an open offer right now to the technical teams of news organizations: Two bottles of whiskey to anyone who will turn on SSL for their viewers."

Kevin Bankston, policy director at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, told The Washington Post that encrypting Web traffic should be the default policy for the majority of organizations in the future. The type of information gleaned from someone's news interest could be used in more sophisticated threats such as social engineering. According to Soghoian, part of the current data privacy problem stems from a lack of clarity as to whether online historical data should be protected under the law.

Why news sites can use SSL
Another issue the news source brought up is the perception that encrypting Web traffic by default would result in a hit to performance. While this may have once been the case, servers have become significantly more powerful, meaning that using solutions such as SSL has a minimal effect on page loading times and overall performance.

Particularly as users become more data privacy-conscious, organizations will need to evaluate existing safeguards. One commonly used method for protecting personally identifiable information (PII) is de-identification. However, ITWorld Canada reported that this strategy can be countered, particularly when businesses are exploring big data initiatives. Keith Carter, adjunct professor at the business school of the National University of Singapore, warned that it becomes easier to put the pieces back together once an outsider has even one type of data. As a result, such strategies should be used alongside encryption to put multiple barriers between third parties and PII.

Protect data in transit with an SSL certificate today.

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