Why we Need Technology Transparency Info for Websites

Mike Halsey MVP
Apr 4, 2011
Updated • Dec 14, 2014

It's been over a decade now that we've had secure socket layer (SSL) encryption technology for making Internet transactions safe. With only a very few exceptions, including a certificate cloning scare a couple of years ago, it's worked very well and has enabled millions of people online to perform trillions of online purchases and financial transactions.

Last week however thousands of websites running Microsoft SQL Server 2003 and 2005 were hit by cyber-criminals with an attack designed to circumvent their security. The attack injected code into the servers that meant every visitor thereafter would be greeted by a message saying their computer had been infected by hundreds of viruses.

This of course wasn't true, it was a way to trick people into paying for a downloadable trojan that would clean the virus problem but would really install botnets, keyloggers and more onto your PC. Worse, in paying for this software, the criminals would then have your credit card details... or more!

This attack could have compromised 28,000 websites according to some reports and is frightening news, especially for all those of us with personal data held by web companies A, B and C.

This brings me back to SSL. If we want to shop online then for over a decade our web browsers have been able to warn us whether or not the information we send is being encrypted, and if that website is deemed safe for financial transactions or for the exchange of personal data.

Then we have companies including Microsoft and Google maintaining blacklists of unsafe websites, shared between them and anti-virus companies, to warn us further of malware-ridden websites by turning our browsers red.

What we don't have are warnings about how secure the underlying technology on a website is, and whether we can trust that.

There's no reason why this would be hard to do either, an encrypted file located on the server (probably with the SSL certificate) that could be read by the browser and certificated by a third-party would be all that would be needed, after all this is tried and tested technology. This file would contain informaton about the hosting on that computer, what operating system version it runs and the versions of what other technologies it is using.

In the cases outlined above a system such as this would have warned visitors to the websites that the sites they were visiting and trusting their personal information to, were using older technologies that, even when properly patched, could be vulnerable to attack.

Indeed many people who already know about such things, might choose to steer clear of all servers running Windows in favour of those running Linux and MySql.

It truly amazes me that we don't already have a system such as this but I'm even more stunned that so many companies and hosting firms are using technologies on their website that are almost a decade old. So come on people, agree a standard by which, within a small margin of error, we can see a traffic light of how secure our personal information will be on a website before we hand it over.

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Why we Need Technology Transparency Info for Websites
Why it is important that security information are displayed prominently to users when visiting websites.

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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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