NY Senator: HTTP ‘a Welcome Mat for Would-Be Hackers’

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Identity theft and security breaches are a top concern for New York Senator Charles Schumer, who appealed to major online companies like Amazon and Twitter to switch to a more secure protocol. The Democrat, speaking at a news conference in a New York City coffee shop, said that unsecured Wi-Fi access aids hackers in getting other people’s personal information.

To him, the remedy is simple: Switch to secure HTTPS web addresses instead of using standard HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol).

“The quickest and easiest way to shut down this one-stop shop for identity theft is for major Web sites to switch to secure HTTPS web addresses instead of the less secure HTTP protocol,” Schumer said according to Reuters, calling HTTP “a welcome mat for would-be hackers.”

With programs like Firesheep making accessing another computer’s private information from unsecured connections simpler, it’s easy to steal passwords and credit card info. Schumer pointed out that the number of people using public Wi-Fi is increasing, while website operators are slow to address the HTTP issue.

HTTPS uses a secure sockets layer (SSL) to disguise your personal data, so most companies use the protocol to protect credit card numbers when people purchase goods online. However, there’s no requirement to use HTTPS over HTTP, and it could be beneficial on login pages or other pages where you use personal information. Unfortunately, HTTPS can slow down performance, but when it’s your online safety at stake, it might be worth it.

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