As the internet continues to evolve, website security has become an increasingly important issue. One of the most effective ways to enhance website security is by enabling HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS). In this blog post, we will explore what HSTS is, how it works, and how to enable it on your website.
What is HSTS?
HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) is a security feature that ensures that a website is always accessed over a secure HTTPS connection, even if a user accidentally types in the unsecured HTTP version of the URL. This is important because HTTPS is a more secure protocol that encrypts all data between the user’s browser and the web server. By enforcing the use of HTTPS, HSTS helps protect against man-in-the-middle attacks and other security threats.
How does HSTS work?
When a browser visits a website that has enabled HSTS, the website sends a header to the browser instructing it to always use HTTPS for future connections to that domain. This header is called the Strict-Transport-Security header and it includes three main parameters:
- max-age: This parameter specifies the amount of time (in seconds) that the browser should remember to use HTTPS for the domain. For example, if the max-age parameter is set to 31536000 (one year), the browser will remember to use HTTPS for that domain for one year.
- includeSubDomains: This parameter tells the browser to also use HTTPS for all subdomains of the domain. This is important because many websites use subdomains for different services, such as login pages, payment gateways, and other sensitive areas.
- preload: This parameter tells the browser to automatically include the website in a preloaded list of HSTS-enabled domains. This list is used by major browsers to automatically enforce HSTS on websites, even if the user has never visited the site before.
How to enable HSTS on your website?
Enabling HSTS is relatively straightforward. Here are the steps to enable HSTS on your website:
- Check if your website is already using HTTPS. HSTS only works with HTTPS, so make sure that your website is already using a secure connection.
- Add the HSTS header to your server. To enable HSTS, you need to add the following header to your server configuration:
Strict-Transport-Security: max-age=31536000; includeSubDomains; preload
This header tells the browser to always use HTTPS for the next 31536000 seconds (one year), and to include all subdomains.
- Verify that HSTS is working. You can use an online tool like SSL Labs to verify that HSTS is working on your website.
- Submit your website to the HSTS preload list. This list is used by browsers to automatically enforce HSTS on websites, even if the user has never visited the site before. To submit your website to the preload list, follow the instructions on the HSTS Preload website.
Enabling HSTS is an important step in securing your website and protecting your users. By ensuring that all connections to your website are secure, you can help prevent data breaches, identity theft, and other security threats. If you’re not already using HSTS, we highly recommend that you enable it on your website as soon as possible.