Twitter has joined Google in enabling HTTPS by default to protect users' privacy on its Website. Facebook is now the only major social networking site not to offer HTTPS as a default.
enabled HTTPS for all its users, which now means that traffic on the social
networking site is encrypted and there is more protection against potential
Less than a
year after Twitter introduced the privacy-friendly option on its settings page,
the microblogging site has turned
on HTTPS by default
for all users, the company said Feb. 13. Users still
have the option to turn off HTTPS through the Account Settings page.
connect to unsecured WiFi networks, such as public hotspots in a coffee shop or
a hotel lobby, run the risk of having their Web information intercepted by
malicious attackers. If the Website the user is accessing doesn't encrypt the
connection with HTTPS, then anyone monitoring the connection can use readily
available networking sniffing tools to read the contents of a session cookie or
see the contents of the Website being transferred. Attackers who can see the
session cookie can impersonate those users.
one of the best ways to keep your account safe, and it will only get better as
we continue to improve HTTPS support on our Web and mobile clients," the
company wrote in a message to its users.
the session cookie encrypted throughout the log-in session, preventing the
information from being intercepted.
rolled out the option to users last March, but was roundly criticized by
privacy experts for keeping HTTPS
by default. Only the most privacy-conscious and
"paranoid" people were likely to go into Account Settings and turn it
on, according to Christopher Soghoian, a Washington, D.C.-based security and
privacy researcher. Companies know users are not likely to turn on settings,
especially for things they may not really understand much about, he told
attendees at the
Kaspersky Lab Security Analyst Summit
, which took place earlier this month.
that readily available tools such as Firesheep have made it very easy for
anyone to be able to sniff cookies for anyone surfing close by on a public WiFi
network, companies need to consider privacy by default, according to privacy
advocates such as Soghoian. Firesheep highlighted how much data is being leaked
online and how users need to be protected.
Google was the
first company to allow users to turn on HTTPS for its Gmail service, and
offered users the option to do search from a secure page. It wasn't until 2010
when malicious outsiders managed to intercept Gmail log-in information that the
on HTTPS by default
for its mail service. When it launched its social
networking platform Google+, HTTPS was turned on from the start.
time Twitter initially added HTTPS, Facebook
added the option
to its social networking site. Like all the other companies,
Facebook also chose to bury the setting deep in its security pages and turned
it off by default. It is still disabled by default for most users, and even
when the user manually turns on HTTPS, Facebook says it will be used "when
possible." For example, even if a user has turned on HTTPS, Facebook will
switch to the unencrypted connection when running many of the apps.
forward to the time when Facebook feels it's ready to enable HTTPS/SSL by
default, and use it throughout users' time on the site," Graham Cluley, a
senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote on the Naked