Cybersecurity, in a very generalized way, is often misunderstood. Part of this is due to the rate at which technology moves. Even cybersecurity experts lag behind on issues relating to cutting edge technology. But most of the problem relates to the consumer information gap. The realities of all electronics and the digital world is that, at their core, they are based on quite rudimentary and unattractive systems of wiring, programing, coding, whatever it might be.
In order to sell digital items, companies package electronics and digital products in a way which hides from site the realities of the underbelly and instead promotes sleek interfaces, user friendly and intuitive controls or usage techniques. The problem with this is pretty obvious. It creates an information gap between users and the products and programs that they are using. The average internet using, computer owning, smartphone touting adult doesn’t have anything like a true understanding of these elements which are so important in their lives.
One area which is particularly complex in comparison to its volume of use is the internet. Everyone uses the internet. How many people really understand it? Proportionally, almost no-one does. One browser type that really homes in on the clean user-friendly elements specifically is Google Chrome. Chrome is one of the most preferred browsers because its functionality is very well hidden, behind a layer of polished usability. There are rarely occasions when users are forced to think of it as anything more than an easy to use internet portal. However, that doesn’t mean it never happens. When things go wrong or when it comes to matters of security, Google need to break the façade for a moment and communicate issue directly to the user.
One of the most common security notices interrupting the normally fluid browsing experience is Chrome’s ‘Deceptive Site Ahead’. Now, contrary to what you might think to be the case, this warning is more potentially damaging for the owners of the sites which trigger it than the ones surfing the web who run into it. The reason for that is that it quite often turns people away from visiting the site. Even though there is a way to bypass the warning and continue to the site, Chrome makes it look very scary and risky to continue. The average user, stripped of a real understanding of what the warning even means, is more likely to just pass over the site creating a problem for the site owners to solve.
What is it?
It is essentially an indication that Google have identified the page that a user has requested to access as containing some sort of harmful threat to the user and their device. A deceptive site, in Google terms, is one which has some sort of ‘phishing’ going on. Phishing can take a few different forms but, if the site is actual owned by a legitimate company, then it usually means one of four issues. Firstly, the website itself could be carrying malware or threat files. This means that some cybercriminal has infected the site with content intentionally used to try and take advantage of innocent visitors. Secondly, the SSL certificate might not be installed correctly.
SSLs are necessary for encrypting and ensuring ownership of websites and information. If a site isn’t secured correctly in that way, then the warning might appear. Thirdly, and related to that, there might be a problem, or rather a lack of activity, with an HTTPS. If it has been mis-installed Google will consider problem with HTTP and HTTPS to mean that a redirection attempt is being made. Finally, sites with mixed content, meaning sites with multiple encryption certificates, or any sense of multiple destinations for information will immediately trigger the warning, since this can also be considered deception. The reality is that most of these warnings are unwarranted and are simply the result of some sort of technical issue on the side of the website host.
That being the case is how it is that Google gives you the option at all to continue to the site, because they recognize that their trigger criteria aren’t guaranteed to be indications of harmful environs. But it also makes a big problem for website hosts, most of whom want their site to be live all the time and not have to worry about people being scared away from entering by ominous Google warnings. The difficulty comes in identifying the problem and correcting it, since Google itself is a little light on the specifics, opting instead to be concerned only with the safety of its users.
How to have the warning removed
As stated, identifying why the warning has appeared there at all is actually the first step to getting rid of it as people try to access your site. This can be complex as it is often a technical fault rather than some sort of major issue. The best thing you can do to help yourself is to install a program that will handle the job for you. There are many programs out there that offer elements of web security, but you ideally want to go for one which gives you the widest set of tools for the best and most accurate results.
The "Deceptive Site Ahead" security warning can be a pain for everyone, those browsing and especially those who have the sites with the problem. Once you are able to establish the problem and its nature, use online tools to ensure that your site is healthy and that your users have a problem-free experience.