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Hawaiian Astronomical Society

Moving to HTTPS

The Hawaiian Astronomical Society has implemented SSL using a shared certificate from Odin. Experienced users know what this is, and how to implement it. Inexperienced users should should edit your bookmark for the site, or change the address listed to begin with "https" instead of just "http." Alternatively, you can go here. You then have to deal with your browser screaming at you to the effect that the site you are visiting is not safe, because the certificate is not intended for the Web site you are visiting. A word about safety will follow. For now, check to see if the certificate is from Odin. If it is, accept it, and have the browser you are using store it permanently. You will then see the same old page you have always seen.

Https offers a number of advantages over regular http. If done right, it makes all communications between you and the Web site encrypted. No-one else can listen in. Logins, cookies, and submitted messages are all hidden from third parties. The government cannot listen in, third parties cannot inject malicious code, and your Internet service provider (ISP) cannot listen in and inject advertising.

That said, we don't use cookies. There are no logins. The government has not identified Astronomy as a security threat. That leaves third party attacks and ISP snooping as the benefit from using "https." That explains why HAS hasn't moved to secure its Web pages. So why now?

Blame the browsers. They have been getting more insistent warning people away from "http only" Web sites. New releases will be flashing even bigger, more intrusive warnings. Web sites have been moving to "https" in the wake of the Snowden revelations. As more sites switched to encryption, browsers could get more insistent. That is why we decided to move.

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