HTTPS is a way of securing your website. It gives you a nice, green padlock and, to most users, it means all is safe with that website and you can trust this website and feel free to enter credit card details and passwords on any site with such a reassuring, green padlock.

Recently, Google phased out the green lock icon and “Secure” label next to URLs on Chrome – pointing out that safe websites should be the norm on the internet.

I live in Africa (South Africa to be specific), and there is a huge lack of cyber-security awareness. Most of our parents or even peers do not know how to identify a secure website when they come across one. In South Africa (SA), there are currently no government-led cybersecurity awareness and education initiatives. It is a continent where phishing and fake news thrives like a well-fed monster.

The green padlock is a complicated thing. And the issue is how to condense those complications for the average user. While I, and others, may be interested in the subject, my parents, for example, are not. And they should not be restricted from using the web simply because they do not have a university degree in software engineering. I think most people in 3rd world countries (or people in general, who are not tech savvy) will be tricked into obvious fraudulent websites. I am aware that a green lock does not mean the site is not fraudulent, but I think extended validation SSL certificates should at least be set apart from the rest, but that too is not the case in Google Chrome.

 

I know this is not technical or does not offer any solution (it is not helpful in anyway), it is a rant. I am disappointed and I truly think that Google killed the confidence in the “Green Padlock” on HTTPS sites.

I guess the question now is, how best do we educate people about online security – more especially those who have no idea? Those who have never shopped online. I am not sure of the exact figures, but: According to 2011 estimates, about 13.5% of the African population has Internet access. While Africa accounts for 15.0% of the world’s population, only 6.2% of the World’s Internet subscribers are Africans. Africans who have access to broadband connections are estimated to be in percentage of 1% or lower. 

We have a lot of clueless individuals who are still impacted by the digital cloud and many of them will fall victim to internet fraud merely because some company decided to do things differently and without properly putting in place the right resources to better guide the novices on the internet.