Beginning in December of 2019, Google has announced that the Chrome browser will start blocking web pages that contain mixed content. There is quite a bit to talk about here, so let’s take a look at how mixed content in Chrome is going to be handled in 2020 and beyond.
What Exactly is Mixed Content?
When we talk about content, we are talking about the two types of protocols that serve up elements to you when viewing a web page. There is content that is delivered to you over an unencrypted, unsecured connection. This is called an HTTP connection.
Then there is content delivered to you over a secure, encrypted connection. This is called an HTTPS connection.
Basically, when you choose to use an HTTPS secure connection, hackers cannot snoop or steal information during transit. Using the HTTPS protocol is especially important for websites that deal with private information, allow for payments, or deal with other related private data or financial information.
A good example of this is an online store.
Mixed content occurs when content is being served from both protocols. A good example of this is when a website is being served over a secure HTTPS connection but is pulling images and/or scripts from other resources that are using the unencrypted HTTP.
The Web is Moving to Secure All Websites
If you haven’t noticed, the web (while being led and pushed by Google) is moving to secure all websites. This means that even now, if you try to connect to a website with the HTTP protocol, Google has pop-up warnings that let you know that “the site is not secure.”
Google has made such a huge push that they are starting to not even allow mixed content in Chrome. However, you can still enable Chrome to allow insecure content if you wish.
Mixed Content is Confusing
Building on what I said above, websites that are pulling from both protocols can be confusing. There really should be no reason for this, especially if you have a solid web developer. Since there are a number of reasons why mixed content in Chrome occurs, your developer should make sure that no mixed content is on your website.
This is an essential part of the website design process.
If your site is being served up using the secure HTTPS connection, then all of the resources it uses should be pulling that same protocol. Google and other major browsers like Firefox are making it more difficult to navigate sites with mixed content and are forcing website owners to do some cleanup.
If they straighten these sites up, then they will continue to work by default. If not, they will be blocked unless mixed content in Chrome is enabled.
How Mixed Content in Chrome Will Be Handled
After December 2019, insecure content will be blocked by Chrome. It will handle mixed content differently. With the coming of Chrome 79, Google will do two main things:
- Google will look to automatically upgrade all insecure to secure content. This will only happen if that particular resource is available and exists on HTTPS.
- If that doesn’t work, Google will introduce a “toggle” that Chrome users can use to unblock insecure resources and items that Chrome is blocking.
You may think to yourself that this isn’t such a big deal. However, even though this isn’t technically a “full blocking of content,” users will more often than not back out of a site that shows the Google warning instead of unblocking mixed content in Chrome.
This will hurt your website traffic, possible client interactions, and much more.
Should You Worry About Updating Your Website?
The short answer is a simple yes. As time goes by, the option to allow mixed content in Chrome will start to get buried deeper and deeper. This will continue until Chrome will not allow insecure content at all.
There is no timetable for this, but history has shown us that Chrome and the other major browser are definitely working toward getting away from the HTTP protocol for good.
How to Resolve Mixed Content Issues on Your Site
This is all going to depend on what type of website you are running. If you are using WordPress, then resolving mixed content issues can be handled using plugins.
Other online tools that will help you resolve mixed content on your website include something like Screaming Frog. Now, there is more of a learning curve with this, and it costs money. However, it will definitely do the trick for you so that you do not show mixed content in Chrome.
If you are looking for a free mixed content scanner, then JitBit SSL Checker may be right for you. The tool is solid for finding and showing you mixed content errors, but it won’t automatically fix them for you.
How to Unblock Mixed Content in Chrome
Right now, and for the foreseeable future, Chrome will still allow mixed content if you take a minute to enable it. See, Chrome already blocks so much mixed content and adds an “Insecure content blocked” message as well.
You can actually see how this works from this Google mixed content example page. In order to unblock mixed content in Chrome, you need to click a link named “Load unsafe scripts.”
This will essentially tell Google that you are fine with taking the risk of viewing the page. Once they have this information, the page will automatically let you view the non-secure content.
This process will become even easier when Chrome 79 is released. As stated above, Google will have an added icon in the browser that you can simply toggle on or off for mixed content.
Other browsers like Firefox also allow you to view mixed content when needed. That being said, Firefox, Opera, and Safari are all moving in the direction of not allowing mixed content on websites over time.
Allowing mixed content in Chrome has become a major concern for Google. They have really concentrated on making website owners switch to the secure and encrypted HTTPS protocol.
Google has really driven that process for the last couple of years. Now, they are now tuning their resources to finding the best solution for mixed content issues across the web.
While the process of getting rid of mixed content may be slow, over time, Google and the other major browsers will all look to get to a point when all mixed content is blocked until fixed.