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HTTPS Everywhere FAQ

This page answers frequently-asked questions about EFF's HTTPS Everywhere project. If your question isn't answered below, you can try the resources listed here.

What if HTTPS Everywhere breaks some site that I use?

This is occasionally possible because of inconsistent support for HTTPS on sites (e.g., when a site seems to support HTTPS access but makes a few, unpredictable, parts of the site unavailable in HTTPS). If you report the problem to us, we can try to fix it. In the meantime, you can disable the rule affecting that particular site in your own copy of HTTPS Everywhere by clicking on the HTTPS Everywhere toolbar button and unchecking the rule for that site.

You can also report the problem to the site, since they have the power to fix it!

Why is HTTPS Everywhere preventing me from joining this hotel/school/other wireless network?

Some wireless networks hijack your HTTP connections when you first join them, in order to demand authentication or simply to try to make you agree to terms of use. HTTPS pages are protected against this type of hijacking, which is as it should be. If you go to a website that isn't protected by HTTPS Everywhere or by HSTS (currently, example.com is one such site), that will allow your connection to be captured and redirected to the authentication or terms of use page.

Will there be a version of HTTPS Everywhere for IE, Safari, or some other browser?

As of early 2012, the Safari extension API does not offer a way to perform secure rewriting of http requests to https. But if you happen to know a way to perform secure request rewriting in these browsers, feel free to let us know at https-everywhere at EFF.org (but note that modifying document.location or window.location in JavaScript is not secure).

Why use a whitelist of sites that support HTTPS? Why can't you try to use HTTPS for every last site, and only fall back to HTTP if it isn't available?

There are several problems with the idea of trying to automatically detect HTTPS on every site. There is no guarantee that sites are going to give the same response via HTTPS that they give via HTTP. Also, it's not possible to test for HTTPS in real time without introducing security vulnerabilities (What should the extension do if the HTTPS connection attempt fails? Falling back to insecure HTTP isn't safe). And in some cases, HTTPS Everywhere has to perform quite complicated transformations on URIs for example until recently the Wikipedia rule had to turn an address like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web into one like https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/World_Wide_Web because HTTPS was not available on Wikipedia's usual domains.

How do I get rid of/move the HTTPS Everywhere button in the toolbar?

The HTTPS Everywhere button is useful because it allows you to see, and disable, a ruleset if it happens to be causing problems with a site. But if you'd rather disable it, go to View->Toolbars->Customize, and drag the button out of the toolbar into the Addons bar at the bottom of the page. Then you can hide the Addons bar. (In theory you should be able to drag it into the tray of available icons too, but that may trigger this bug.

When does HTTPS Everywhere protect me? When does it not protect me?

HTTPS Everywhere protects you only when you are using encrypted portions of supported web sites. On a supported site, it will automatically activate HTTPS encryption for all known supported parts of the site (for some sites, this might be only a portion of the entire site). For example, if your web mail provider does not support HTTPS at all, HTTPS Everywhere can't make your access to your web mail secure. Similarly, if a site allows HTTPS for text but not images, someone might be able to see which images your browser loads and guess what you're accessing.

HTTPS Everywhere depends entirely on the security features of the individual web sites that you use; it activates those security features, but it can't create them if they don't already exist. If you use a site not supported by HTTPS Everywhere or a site that provides some information in an insecure way, HTTPS Everywhere can't provide additional protection for your use of that site. Please remember to check that a particular site's security is working to the level you expect before sending or receiving confidential information, including passwords.

One way to determine what level of protection you're getting when using a particular site is to use a packet-sniffing tool like Wireshark to record your own communications with the site. The resulting view of your communications is about the same as what an eavesdropper on your wifi network or at your ISP would see. This way, you can determine whether some or all of your communications would be protected; however, it may be quite time-consuming to make sense of the Wireshark output with enough care to get a definitive answer.

You can also turn on the "Block all HTTP requests" feature for added protection. Instead of loading insecure pages or images, HTTPS Everywhere will block them outright.

What does HTTPS Everywhere protect me against?

On supported parts of supported sites, HTTPS Everywhere enables the sites' HTTPS protection which can protect you against eavesdropping and tampering with the contents of the site or with the information you send to the site. Ideally, this provides some protection against an attacker learning the content of the information flowing in each direction for instance, the text of e-mail messages you send or receive through a webmail site, the products you browse or purchase on an e-commerce site, or the particular articles you read on a reference site.

However, HTTPS Everywhere does not conceal the identities of the sites you access, the amount of time you spend using them, or the amount of information you upload or download from a particular site. For example, if you access http://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying and HTTPS Everywhere rewrites it to https://www.eff.org/issues/nsa-spying, an eavesdropper can still trivially recognize that you are accessing www.eff.org (but might not know which issue you are reading about). In general, the entire hostname part of the URL remains exposed to the eavesdropper because this must be sent repeatedly in unencrypted form while setting up the connection. Another way of saying this is that HTTPS was never designed to conceal the identity of the sites that you visit.

Researchers have also shown that it may be possible for someone to figure out more about what you're doing on a site merely through careful observation of the amount of data you upload and download, or the timing patterns of your use of the site. A simple example is that if the site only has one page of a certain total size, anyone downloading exactly that much data from the site is probably accessing that page.

If you want to protect yourself against monitoring of the sites you visit, consider using HTTPS Everywhere together with software like Tor.

How do I get support for an additional site in HTTPS Everywhere?

You can learn how to write rules that teach HTTPS Everywhere to support new sites. You can install these rules in your own browser or send them to us for possible inclusion in the official version.

What if the site doesn't support HTTPS, or only supports it for some activities, like entering credit card information?

You could try to contact the site and point out that using HTTPS for all site features is an increasingly common practice nowadays and protects users (and sites) against a variety of Internet attacks. For instance, it defends against the ability of other people on a wifi network to spy on your use of the site or even take over your account. You can also point out that credit card numbers aren't the only information you consider private or sensitive.

Sites like Google, Twitter, and Facebook now support HTTPS for non-financial information for general privacy and security reasons.

Isn't it more expensive or slower for a site to support HTTPS compared to regular HTTP?

It can be, but some sites have been pleasantly surprised to see how practical it can be. Also, experts at Google are currently implementing several enhancements to the TLS protocol that make HTTPS dramatically faster; if these enhancements are added to the standard soon, the speed gap between the two should almost disappear. See Adam Langley's description of the HTTPS deployment situation for more details on these issues. Notably, Langley states: "In order to [enable HTTPS by default for Gmail] we had to deploy no additional machines and no special hardware. On our production frontend machines, SSL/TLS accounts for less than 1% of the CPU load, less than 10KB of memory per connection and less than 2% of network overhead."

It used to be expensive to purchase a certificate for HTTPS usage, but they can now be obtained for free from Let's Encrypt as well.

Why should I use HTTPS Everywhere instead of just typing https:// at the beginning of site names?

Even if you normally type https://, HTTPS Everywhere might protect you if you occasionally forget. Also, it can rewrite other people's links that you follow. For instance, if you click on a link to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EFF_Pioneer_Award, HTTPS Everywhere will automatically rewrite the link to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EFF_Pioneer_Award. Thus, you might get some protection even if you wouldn't have noticed that the target site is available in HTTPS.

Why does HTTPS Everywhere include rules for sites like PayPal that already require HTTPS on all their pages?

HTTPS Everywhere, like the HSTS spec, tries to address an attack called SSL stripping. Users are only protected against the SSL stripping attack if their browsers don't even try to connect to the HTTP version of the site even if the site would have redirected them to the HTTPS version. With HTTPS Everywhere, the browser won't even attempt the insecure HTTP connection, even if that's what you ask it to do. (Note that HTTPS Everywhere currently does not include a comprehensive list of such sites, which are mainly financial institutions.)

What do the different colors for rulesets in the Firefox toolbar menu mean?

The colors are:

Dark Green: ruleset was active in loading the resources in the current page.

Light Green: ruleset was ready to prevent HTTP loads in the current page, but everything that the ruleset would have covered was loaded over HTTPS anyway (in the code, light green is called a "moot rule").

Dark Brown or Clockwise Red Arrow: broken rule -- the ruleset is active but the server is redirecting at least some URLs back from HTTPS to HTTP.

Gray: the ruleset is disabled.

What do the different colors of the HTTPS Everywhere icon mean?

The colors are:

Light Blue: HTTPS Everywhere is enabled.

Dark Blue: HTTPS Everywhere is both enabled and active in loading resources in the current page.

Red: All unencrypted requests will be blocked by HTTPS Everywhere.

Gray: HTTPS Everywhere is disabled.

I'm having a problem installing the browser extension.

Some people report that installing HTTPS Everywhere gives them the error: "The addon could not be downloaded because of a connection failure on www.eff.org." This may be caused by Avast anti-virus, which blocks installation of browser extensions. You may be able to install from addons.mozilla.org instead.

How do I uninstall/remove HTTPS Everywhere?

In Firefox: Click the menu button in the top right of the window at the end of the toolbar (it looks like three horizontal lines), and then click "Add-ons" (it looks like a puzzle piece). Scroll until you see HTTPS Everywhere, and then click the "Remove" button all the way on the right. You can then safely close the Add-ons tab.

In Chrome: Click the menu button in the top right of the window at the end of the toolbar (it looks like three horizontal lines), and then click "Settings" near the bottom. On the left, click "Extensions". Scroll until you see HTTPS Everywhere, and then click the trash can icon on the right, and then click "Remove" to confirm removal. You can then safely close the Settings tab.

How do I add my own site to HTTPS Everywhere?

We're excited that you want your site in HTTPS Everywhere! However, remember that not everyone who visits your site has our extension installed. If you run a web site, you can make it default to HTTPS for everyone, not just HTTPS Everywhere users. And it's less work! The steps you should take, in order, are:

  1. Set up a redirect from HTTP to HTTPS on your site.
  2. Add the Strict-Transport-Security (HSTS) header on your site.
  3. Add your site to the HSTS Preload list.

These steps will give your site much better protection than adding it to HTTPS Everywhere. Generally speaking, once you are done, there is no need to add your site to HTTPS Everywhere. However, if you would still like to, please follow the instructions on writing rulesets, and indicate that you are the author of the web site when you submit your pull request.

Can I help translate HTTPS Everywhere into my own language?

Yes! We use the Tor Project's Transifex account for translations, please sign up to help translate at https://www.transifex.com/otf/torproject.

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