What is the “Upgrade-Insecure-Requests” HTTP header?

To understand ‘upgrade insecure requests,’ we first need to differentiate between http and the https connections. The addition of http is seen with every web address just because it is the major pillar of data communication for the WWW (World Wide Web). It has been in practice for long, but due to the increased security threats to the online users, businesses, and websites, people prefer https.

The addition of ‘s’ to the https represents the secure socket layers (SSL). It makes sure the data transfers safely and reaches a destination without being deciphered. The SSL encodes the information that passes through the channels to ensure the privacy and confidentiality.

Most of the attackers try to crack the data to get access to personal and financial records of the users and take benefit from it. To ensure the security of every user, websites are turning their websites on a secure route and that’s why most of the browsers are also supporting the https now. The browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari now quickly recognize a secure connection i.e. https to a website and allow users to browse it safely. It also makes sure the data they submit remains private.

What is Upgrade-Insecure-Requests?

Upgrade Insecure Requests is an amazing addition to the directives of CSP (Content Security Policy) that is used to automatically redirect users from an insecure connection i.e. http to a secure one like https. For example you are running an online business over the http://yourstore.com. A secure version needs to be https://yourstore.com.

The eCommerce business involves online payments and other financial deals that need to be kept safe and secure. The buyers are more likely to purchase through the online stores if they are ensured for the privacy and confidentiality. For such businesses, upgrade insecure requests is a must to gain trust and credibility among users.

Let say, a tourists resort maintains data of their customers and allow them to book rooms online. They have all the pre-requisites in place like an interactive WooCommerce Bookings plugin, a hassle free payment solution, and a quick response team of customer support. The sensitive information about the customers compels the resorts to take drastic measure for the security of their website. They will never want an intruder to get access to the information just because of an insecure connection. In such cases, moving to the https becomes mandatory for every small to medium and large businesses.

Now, the problem is how to redirect users automatically from http:// to an https://? Here, comes the http header to solve the problem that is the addition of Content-Security-Policy: upgrade-insecure-requests in the response. And, the html tag becomes <meta http-equiv=”Content-Security-Policy” content=”upgrade-insecure-requests”>.

The http header is configured to bridge between the server and a user to get an authentic and secure response. The browsers that are equipped to detect secure connections of websites and diverting users to it. In result, it brilliantly manages the upgrade insecure requests and redirects the users to browse safely through the requested page and its subordinates.

How does it work?

It works just like the way other redirects are configured, but the aim is to offer the users a more secure platform. Either you own a business website, an online store, a personal or commercial blog; it is always vulnerable to security risks. The information of your valuable users, suppliers and clients is at stack and you need to secure it as soon as possible.

For example, you are running an online venture since long with http. And, it is the time to switch your users to https, but your long term business existence prevents you to alter the URL. the marketing efforts, promotions, and branding will be highly affected just because you won’t waste a lot of time and effort in modifying the URLs and redirecting the previous link addresses to the newer ones.

The Upgrade insecure requests header is configured for such a situation. It requires the addition of content security policy in responses so that the browsers that support the request header can instantly redirect users to a secure platform i.e. https://yoursite.com. Most of the browsers try to advertise their technical support through an http header;

Upgrade-Insecure-Requests: 1

To solve this issue, enable Upgrade-Insecure-Requests directive in Nwebsec. It makes the browsers in agreement to redirect users through 307 status code. This additional directive will stay in the CSP header so the non-conforming browsers will simply bypass the rule.

This is one of the effectively useful tools for webmasters to redirect users to a safer version without wasting time in modifying each link reference and setting redirections as well.