Around 4o million people with older computers and smart devices may not be able to access the internet after January 1.
There are new plans to upgrade the way certain websites are verified which will force users to surf on the non-encrypted web unless they buy more modern devices. This means users may not have access to verified websites like Facebook, Google, and Twitter starting from the New Year.
Buzzfeed reports that websites are encrypted through a code which is generated by the website you’re visiting. This code is then translated into your browser. Currently we use a system called SHA1, but developers fear that this is no longer safe so they’re pushing for an upgraded version called SHA2, which won’t be compatible with older devices.
The moves been extremely controversial with experts pointing out that not everyone can simply afford to upgrade their devices. Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare which researched how many people the change would affect, told BuzzFeed. “It is important to remember that the internet is not just guys with the newest laptops and an iPhone 6.”
Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos agrees with MR Prince. In a blog post he published last week, he wrote:
We don’t think it’s right to cut tens of millions of people off from the benefits of the encrypted Internet, particularly because of the continued usage of devices that are known to be incompatible with SHA-256. Many of these older devices are being used in developing countries by people who are new to the Internet, as we learned recently when we rolled out TLS encryption to people using our Free Basics Platform. We should be investing in privacy and security solutions for these people, not making it harder for them to use the Internet safely.
With January 1 just over two weeks away we hope that everyone’s working hard on getting this sorted.