SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS

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SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS Empty SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS

Post by The Godfather on February 3rd 2017, 4:28 pm

Switching your forum to HTTPS



As of September 2019, every Forumotion Forum, regardless of it's package, has had an SSL Certificate installed automatically and HTTPS activated by default. You will still need to manually update images, links, scripts, etc to HTTPS in order for the 'secured' ribbon to show up properly and also to avoid issues with images and scripts not loading

Below is a guide with information and steps to follow to ensure your forum is HTTPS ready.

1. First of all, be aware of the migration to HTTPS impacts


Switching from HTTP to HTTPS offers many advantages and drawbacks on every website.

1.1. Advantages of HTTPS



  • Light gain in search engine optimization : Google has made HTTPS become a determining SEO criterion. Indeed, there is a light bonus for secure website since 2014.
  • Emphasis of the security on browsers : a green "Secure" label on Google Chrome appears on your forum when HTTPS is running. HTTPS improves users trust about your forum.
    SEE EXAMPLE:
    SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS Have-s11
  • HTTPS is about to become a norm : Migrating your forum to HTTPS gives you the possibility to take the lead on potential future updates. For example, Google Chrome didn't deny the fact that the "Not secure" label, currently grey, may become red in the future.

1.2. Drawback of the HTTPS



  • Updating all your links : to have the green "Secure" label, EVERY resources on each pages must be called in HTTPS. In case of a mixed content (HTTPS page with scripts called in HTTP, for example), the green "Secure" label won't be displayed in Google Chrome. Some other browsers may display an alert.

  • SEO : Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS is equal to a domain change for search engines. In this way, the migration can take time and drag a loss of position in Google results. But don't be afraid: that is temporary.
  • A reset of the social sharing counters: When you migrate your forum from HTTP to HTTPS, your social media counters will be reset: likes, tweets, +1...

So, should I keep my forum on HTTPS? That's a personal decision! Maybe you can feel concerned by this change, and maybe not. You have to weigh the pros and cons to decide if you want to keep your forum on https protocol or not.

Don't forget that even if Google Chrome is the most used browser in 2016 it isn't the only! Have a look on the other browsers (visual alert, compatibility...), and especially on Firefox (Read the article on the Mozilla support).

2. Forumotion's role in the forum migration to HTTPS

Here are all the changes automatically made by Forumotion when activating an ssl certificate:

  • Set up of a valid SSL certificate on your forum
  • 301 redirect of every HTTP pages to HTTPS pages, upgrading of the canonical tag, internal links and sitemap links.
  • Automatic upgrade of each basic resources of Forumotion and some external links related to knows services.

See the list of automatically updated HTTPS resources by FORUMOTION:
ahlamontada.
archive-host.com
facebook.
foroactivo.
forum2x2.
forumactif.
forumeiros.
forumgratuit.
forumieren.
forumotion.
gyazo.com
hitsk.in
hostingpics.net
i.imgur.com
illiweb.com
im.all-up.com
imgfast.net
imgup.net
imgur.com
ipgetinfo.com
photobucket.com
postimg.org
redcdn.net
servimg.com
zupimages.net

Thanks to this automatic actions, you can migrate your Forumotion forum in HTTPS with ease. However, you have some modification to do on your side.

3. Admin's role in the forum migration to HTTPS


To succeed in the HTTPS migration, an admin has to make manual changes to their forum. The task isn't complicated, but may take some time depending on the forum.

The main objective is to display the green "Secure" label on all the new pages of the forum and the majority of the old pages. Nevertheless, having 100% of your pages with the green "Secure" label is complicated because of the mixed content that a discussion forum displays.

Then, here is the steps to follow to succeed in migrate your forum to HTTPS:

3.1 Update personalized resources


These are the resources that you have added to your forum to modify or customize it: scripts, pics, visits counter, etc. They all have to be called in HTTPS to have the green lock.

Note that Forumotion gives you an option to allow to automatically call basic resources of your forum in HTTPS. This option is available for the admin when his SSL certificate is activated on his forum. If you want to automate the switch of your forum resources in HTTPS, then go to the next step: "3.2. Activating or Deactivating HTTPS protocol on your forum". Otherwise, read the spoiler for the manual way.

SEE OUR ADVICE TO SWITCH MANUALLY THE RESOURCES OF YOUR FORUM IN HTTPS:
You decided to do not automate the switch of the resources in HTTPS? Your task will be to find and update manually these customized resources in HTTPS to replace them by their equivalent in HTTPS if they exist, to avoid mixed content issues.

Main concerned resources are:
Code:
<img> (src attribute)
<script> (src attribute)
<link> (hred attribute) (CSS)
{background:url() (in CSS)
<audio> (src attribute)
<video> (src attribute)
<iframe> (src attribute)

Here are the steps to follow:


  1. To update a personalized resource, you have to copy-past its URL in your browser.
  2. Then, replace the http:// by https:// to verify that the resource if available in HTPPS
  3. If it is available in HTTPS, replace the address in HTTP by the one in HTTPS.
  4. If not, action will depend on the resource. If it is a script, you will have to host it on your forum. If it's a picture, you can host it on Servimg that is totally compatible with HTTPS.


SEE EXAMPLE:
For this external resource called HTTP for example:
Code:
<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />
The address of the resources will be re replaced by its equivalent in HTTPS:
Code:
<link href='https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />

In order to help you to find external resources that you may added to your forum, here is a not exhaustive list of the main pages to verify:

  1. Go to your admin panel and look at your templates, CSS, favicon, pictures, personalized widgets, external scripts, ... to look for HTTP links
  2. Go to the index of your forum and open the homepage, a category, a subforum and a topic. Then look at the page source ("Ctrl U" on your keyboard) and look for HTTP links.



To summerarize: Mixed content issue is caused by a not secure resource (whose address is in HTTP) called by a secured HTTPS page. Because of mixed content the green "Secure" label on Google Chrome cant be displayed. On Firefox, you will see a green lock with a grey sign alert.

3.2. Activating or Deactivating HTTPS protocol on your forum


If you do not wish to have https protocol activated, you have the choice to switch your forum back to http protocol. Doing so WILL NOT remove or deactivate the ssl certificate of your forum, it just changes the protocol. You can turn https on and off whenever you like.

To manage your SSL Certificate settings follow these instructions:
Go to your Administration panel  General  Forum Address  SSL Certificate

From here you have 2 options:

SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS Https_10

Option 1: 'Forum protocol': This option allows you to choose which protocol (https or http) your forum loads in. You can change the protocol by ticking the bubble next whichever protocol you want and then saving.

Option 2: 'Forcing HTTPS compatibility ("Secure" label)': This option, ticked to yes by default, allows you to decide whether the forum will force all pages into https compliance or not. What this means, when ticked to yes, the forum will ONLY load resources (I.e Images, Scripts, etc) that are https. When this option is enabled, any images or scripts that have not been hosted in https protocol will NOT be rendered by the browser and therefore NOT appear when the page is loaded. Ticking this option to 'No' or 'disabling' it will allow any images and scripts that have not been updated to https protocol to still be rendered by the browser. This option is handy if you still want any images or scripts not currently in https to still load.

IMPORTANT NOTICES:
  • Changing your forum to http protocol or disabling option 2, will remove the 'secure' label from your forum.
    Please also be aware that any changes you make to your SSL certificate can take up to 96 hours to propagate.

  • The SSL certificate option is available on every Forumotion forum with or without personalized domain name
.

3.3. Test your "new" HTTPS forum


Once your forum in HTTPS, don't forget to go around to verify that everything runs well. Think to look at eventual mixed content issues.

Some services, free or paid, permit to check if your pages are in HTTPS and find eventuel issues. See this example with an online service: www.whynopadlock.com and a software: httpsChecker.

3.4. Webmaster tools upgrading


Switching to HTTPS imposes the need to upgrade some webmaster tools. The last step is to add your HTTPS forum on Google Webmaster Tools and BING Webmaster Tools, especially to continue to access at your forum data.

This action also allow to speed up the consideration of the switch to HTTPS.

Finally, if you have issues, Forumotion support is here to help you during the process. Don't hesitate to open a topic in the dedicated section for the migration to HTTPS.

Forumotion Staff king

Tutorial Updated: 9/29/2019 by brandon_g
Reason for update: Updating tutorial to reflect the recent change to activate SSL certificates on ALL Forumotion Forums regardless of package.



Last edited by brandon_g on September 29th 2019, 3:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Updated tutorial to reflect every Forumotion Forum now having SSL regardless of package)
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SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS Empty Re: SSL Certificate: Guide for a success forum migration to HTTPS

Post by brandon_g on September 29th 2019, 3:55 pm

Hello everyone,

This tutorial has been updated to reflect a recent decision and change by the company regarding SSL Certificates. In an effort to meet modern standards as well as improve the overall security of forums on our platform, Forumotion decided to install and activate SSL Certificates on EVERY forum regardless of package.

Please read this tutorial in full for more information on SSL Certificates, why they are beneficial to your forum, as well as how you can disable them if you wish to.

Regards,
-The Forumotion Team


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