As of right now, the data that moves between Wikipedia.com and most users is unencrypted, which increases the chances that someone else may be eavesdropping on you. That, however, is about to change: On Friday, the Wikimedia Foundation announced that it’s moving its sites toward HTTPS by default, so that all data transferred between you and its servers will be encrypted.
According to a post on the Wikimedia Blog, you can expect all visits to Wikimedia sites like Wikipedia, Wiktionary, and Wikimedia Commons to be encrypted sometime in the next couple of weeks. (As it stands right now, only logged-in users get encrypted connections to Wikimedia’s servers.)
Wikimedia says it has been working on the move toward HTTPS for all users since 2011, but that it stepped up its efforts in 2013 in the wake of government surveillance revelations. It did take the organization some time to complete its HTTPS project, however, is it needed to update its back-end systems to support encrypted connections for everyone.
The Impact on you: Encrypted connections aren’t a guarantee against data theft—after all, they won’t necessarily keep a determined cybercriminal from trying to break into a server. But at the very least, they do help ensure that your data will at least get to the site you’re visiting without causal snoops eavesdropping on your browsing.
HTTPS takes center stage
In recent years, the Internet as a whole has gradually shifted toward using encrypted HTTPS connections by default to better protect your personal data.
Twitter, Google, and Facebook—among others—all use secure connections automatically. Meanwhile, the EFF offers a browser add-on that lets you connect securely to virtually every site that support HTTPS, while Mozilla is working to make it easier for webmasters to offer secure connections.