US gov't wants HTTPS on its publicly-accessible sites within two years

New sites set up by government agencies will be required to implement HTTPS

Publicly accessible websites and services of U.S. government agencies will have to move to HTTPS encryption within two years to meet the government's objective that these sites and Web services should be offered over a secure connection.

The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure offers the strongest privacy protection available for public Web connections with today's Internet technology, according to a draft proposal released Tuesday by the White House's Office of Management and Budget.

"The use of HTTPS reduces the risk of interception or modification of user interactions with government online services," it added.

Besides verifying the identity of a website or service to which the person is connecting, thus preventing redirection to bogus websites, HTTPS also encrypts information sent between the website or service and the user.

A number of government websites including that of the White House have moved to HTTPS by default. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission said earlier this month that it had enabled HTTPS encryption on its website by default. The Federal Register, the daily journal of the U.S. government, has a fully HTTPS-enabled website since 2011.

Under the program now being proposed, newly developed websites and services at all federal agency domains or subdomains must follow the policy upon launch. Existing websites and services are being asked to deploy the encryption in phases, with priority given to services and sites where the content is sensitive or has high traffic and personally identifiable information is exchanged.

Private intranets are also recommended to move to HTTPS, but the shift is not "explicitly required."

Websites and services must also enable a new security mechanism HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) that allows sites to specify that the browser should always use a secure connection to the server. "This reduces insecure redirects, and protects users against attacks that attempt to downgrade connections to plain HTTP," according to the proposal.

OMB recognized that the cost of the transition and maintenance could be high but said it was outweighed by the benefits of a secure service for the public.

The proposal has been put up on GitHub for comment. People can also send in their comments by email, the government said.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Office of Management and Budgetsecuritygovernment

More about Federal Trade CommissionIDGNewsOffice of Management and BudgetTransport

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John Ribeiro

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place