Last week Twitter announced support for secure HTTP, or HTTPS, for its popular microblogging service. Twitter joins Facebook, who announced support for HTTPS earlier this year, and Google, who enabled default HTTPS access for Gmail over a year ago.
The ever-increasing support for HTTPS is a good thing for the web and its users, as it protects data from being snooped upon by hackers or other third parties. Plain, unencrypted HTTP is highly susceptible to eavesdropping attacks, especially if you are using a public Wi-Fi network. Everything transmitted over HTTP, whether the contents of an e-mail or a username/password combination, can be intercepted using readily-available tools such as Firesheep. HTTPS, on the other hand, encrypts all communications from your web browser to the server you’re communicating with, thereby foiling eavesdropping attempts, even in a public Wi-Fi environment.
Mainstream sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Gmail supporting HTTPS will no doubt encourage broader adoption of HTTP’s secure counterpart. For the moment Facebook and Twitter have made their HTTPS offerings a setting that has to be manually enabled, so if you’re concerned about online security, be sure to enable HTTPS support on both Facebook and Twitter.