The US government is publicly backing HTTPS across its websites and promising to make communications more secure and solid.
The White House said the move will have encryption benefits and make it safer for anyone who deals with the government via the internet.
It's official! The US government is moving to HTTPS everywhere: https://t.co/Ox0dG6AZVE We're thrilled to see it, and proud to work here!— 18F (@18F) June 8, 2015
"Today, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued the HTTPS-Only Standard directive requiring that all publicly accessible federal websites and web services only provide service through a secure HTTPS connection," said US chief information officer Tony Scott in a White House blog post.
"Per the issuance of this memorandum, all publicly accessible federal websites must meet the HTTPS-Only Standard by 31 December 2016."
Scott explained that unencrypted information creates problems and can expose citizens and data.
He added that such information needs protecting and that industry players like Google back HTTPS and may have a better hold on it than government.
"Unencrypted HTTP connections create a vulnerability and expose potentially sensitive information about users of unencrypted federal websites and services," Scott said.
"This data can include browser identity, website content, search terms and other user-submitted information.
"To address these concerns, many commercial organisations have already adopted HTTPS-only policies to protect visitors to their websites and services. Today's action will deliver that same protection to users of federal websites and services."
The US government is officially moving to HTTPS everywhere! https://t.co/HF8RlGqVTW It's broad, blunt policy, and I think it's really good.— Eric Mill (@konklone) June 8, 2015
This is not a silver bullet, however, and Scott warned that HTTPS can protect only communications, not the systems and services that transport them.
He said that sticking to HTTPS where possible is a must and that the government is pushing for stronger security standards.
"HTTPS only guarantees the integrity of the connection between two systems, not the systems themselves," he added.
"An HTTPS-only standard, however, will eliminate inconsistent, subjective decision making regarding which content or browsing activity is sensitive in nature, and create a stronger privacy standard government-wide.
"It is critical that federal websites maintain the highest privacy standards for the users of its online services. With this new action, we are driving faster internet-wide adoption of HTTPS and promoting better privacy standards for the entire browsing public."
The move towards improving the security of government communications is somewhat ironic as it comes at a time when the US government, like the UK, is pressuring tech firms to reduce encryption levels on their kit.
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