Internet users with basic security knowledge are aware that they should look for the padlock icon in the address bar or the HTTPS in a web address to indicate that a website is secure. We have gotten used to seeing it on bank sites or shopping carts where we input our credit card information. More and more, regular websites are making the switch from unencrypted HTTP to encrypted HTTPS. Last year, search giant Google sweetened the pot by adding HTTPS to their ranking algorithm. That action encouraged webmasters everywhere to make the switch to HTTPS.
But is HTTPS really more secure than HTTP?
The simple answer is not always. As more and more online services are moving to HTTPS, attacks are increasing. An encrypted connection ensures that the connection cannot be modified by anyone else, but it does not guarantee that the actual content being downloaded is safe. Just as with plain HTTP, if a legitimate website is hacked, malware scripts and binaries can be placed into the HTTPS page that appears to be safe.
That’s why it is imperative for security software to check this attack vector. To address this, Avast’s trusted Web Shield technology scans HTTPS sites for malware and threats.
How Avast’s HTTPS scanning feature works (the short version)
Avast is able to detect and decrypt TLS/SSL protected traffic in our Web-content filtering component. To detect malware and threats on HTTPS sites, Avast must remove the SSL certificate and add its self-generated certificate. Our certificates are digitally signed by Avast’s trusted root authority and added into the root certificate store in Windows and in major browsers to protect against threats coming over HTTPS; traffic that otherwise could not be detected.
Avast whitelists websites if we learn that they don’t accept our certificate. Users can also whitelist sites manually, so that the HTTPS scanning does not slow access to the site.
This video gives you an overview, but if any of this didn‘t make much sense to you, read below for a more detailed explanation. You can also explore the FAQ about HTTPS scanning in Web Shield.
What is HTTP and why is it being changed?
HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP is the network protocol used to deliver virtually all files and other data on the World Wide Web. When you visit a website you may see the HTTP:// prefix in the address. This means your browser is now connected to the server using HTTP. The problem with HTTP is that it is not a secure way to establish a connection, opening a door to cybercrooks who want to eavesdrop on your activities.
More than one billion people nowadays use smartphones devices and this number is growing rapidly. With the growing numbers of mobile users accessing the internet on Android smartphones and tablets, and iOS iPhones and iPads, the number of mobile threats and attacks is rising progressively.
Mobile users store sensitive data, and engage in online banking operations, exposing devices to the modern mobile threads. You need constant protection. Not even these big names were immune from attack: German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s smartphone was hacked; Rovio, creator of popular game Angry Birds, reported that the personal data of its customers might have been accessed by U.S. and British spy agencies; and recent news of other leaky phone apps have caused people to look for ways to protect their private mobile communications.
Unprotected WiFi presents a real and present danger
Edward Snowden’s recently leaked documents revealed that the Canadian government’s intelligence agency, CSEC, collected data from travelers who connected to unprotected WiFi at Canadian airports. Read more…