HTTPS is the short form of HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. This is the secure version of HTTP, which is also known as the most common protocol used for sending data over the Internet. HTTPS adds another layer of safety by providing encryption to secure the contents of the data transfer. This has become quite important in those cases where a user is sending confidential information to the server. Or getting it back from the server; this can be done by logging in to the bank account, using the email service, health insurance provider, and much more.
Any website which uses credentials to log in should have an HTTPS protocol to send and receive data. When you are using a modern web browser to open a website that doesn’t have an HTTPS, it will be marked differently. Also, in some cases, you might not be able to open these websites normally. So you have to click on the warning and pass through it.
The easiest way to find whether the website is using HTTPS or HTTP is to check if you have a padlock on the left side of the URL bar where the URL of the website or a web page is present. Most web browsers are taking HTTPS seriously due to the increase in the number of cybercrimes. Today, in this article, we are going to show you how HTTPS works and the benefits of using HTTPS. In addition to this, we are also going to compare HTTPS vs. HTTP side by side for a better understanding of which one is better and why. So let’s begin.
How Does HTTPS Work?
Now you might be wondering how an HTTPS protocol works; well, HTTPS uses the encryption protocol to get the encryption done on the communications. The encryption protocol is called Transport Layer Security (TLS).
When it was first introduced, this protocol was formerly called Secure Socket Layer (SSL). With the implementation of asymmetric public key infrastructure, the TLS protocol can secure the communication happening between the web browser and the server. The TLS uses two types of keys to encrypt the communications between the two parties.
Private Key – If you are the owner of the website, this is the key you will have to take care of. It is kept hidden and only given to the users who are speculated. The key is present in the web browser, and it is used when a piece of specific information received from the website’s hosting server needs decryption. The information decrypted by the private key is first encrypted in the hosting server before sending it to the client over the network using the public key.
Public Key – This is the key that is available for everyone who is looking to make a communication with the server in a secure way. The information which is encrypted by the public key can only be decrypted using the private key of the same website.
Why Do We Move From HTTP To HTTPS?
HTTPS is the one protocol that keeps the data of a website from not being broadcast to the public who are present on the Internet. This keeps the data safe from being viewed by anyone who is trying to snoop on the network. When you send information to the server using HTTP. The info gets broken into multiple packets of the data. But one of the biggest problems with HTTP is that these small data packets can be easily sniffed using online software and tools. As a result, the whole communication using HTTP becomes insecure. The use of HTTP can be seen in public WiFi and other forms of highly vulnerable interceptions over the network.
On the other hand, all the transfer of information that occurs on HTTP is done in plain text, which means that you can interrupt the communication or get hold of the data packet. You don’t need to go through any decryption to get the information. It is present in plain text for anyone to read and take advantage of.
That’s where HTTPS comes in to make sure that even if someone can perform the on-path attack on the communication, they still have no way to see what information is being sent to and fro using the specific communication.
For example, if you are sending a text using HTTP, it will be seen as this text during the transfer of data packets.
“This is a sentence that you can easily read without having to use any form of tool.”
Once we use the HTTPS and the encryption protocol does its work on the information. The above-given sentence can be read out in this form.
When the encryption is one, no one can interpret what is written in the message. To understand it, they need a private key that is only present to the web browser that is requesting the information.
When there is no HTTPS present on the websites, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or other forms of intermediaries inject content into web pages even without getting approval from the website’s owner in the first place. This could be present in the form of advertising when ISP is looking to increase its revenue by injecting paid advertising into the web pages of its customers. When this occurs, the owner of the website has no control over the types of advertisements that run on the site along with the revenue that the ISP is making through it.
On the other hand, HTTPS eliminates the ability of ISP and other third parties to take over the ads visible to the website owner.
Difference Between HTTP & HTTPS
If we speak in technical terms, HTTPS is not a separate protocol from HTTP. HTTPS is only using TLS/SSL encryption methods to make the HTTP protocol more secure. The occurrence of HTTPS can be seen upon the transmission of the TLS/SSL certificate. The primary use of this certificate is to check whether the provider is actually who they are and not just pretending to be the one.
When you try to visit a website, the website will send over its SSL certificate that includes the public key necessary to start the secure session between the web browser and the server. Once this is done, both the client’s computer and the server then go through the process, which is known as SSL/TLS handshake. This is the series of back-and-forth communications that will help in securing the connection.
HTTP used to be the preferred protocol when it comes to prescribing the order and syntax of the information that is used for sending the data over the network. When it comes to sending the content of the website or application from a server to a client’s system. HTTP is used in most API calls. There are two types of the main message that does the whole work for HTTP. The first is the request sent from the client’s computer to the server.
The second is the response which is sent from the server to the client based on the request they made in the first place. For example, when you click on the link present on a web page, the browser will then send a series of “HTTP GET” requests for the content that appears on that page. These HTTP requests will then be forwarded to the origin server or a proxy caching server. That server will then produce an HTTP response. Or it answers to the HTTP requests that were sent by the web browser.
As we said, the response and the request that is sent to and fro from the server and client is sent across in plain text. This could get the user in a lot of trouble when they are sending sensitive data over the Internet using the HTTP protocol. There could be passwords, credit card details, and any other form of data that should not be getting into unauthorized hands.
With the implementation of HTTP, a malicious actor can eavesdrop on the communication between the client and the server to see the information present in the plain text. They can even manipulate the communication and use it to their advantage. This causes security issues in HTTP.
SSL and its Importance
SSL is like wearing a seatbelt when you are driving a car, no matter if you go across the street. You still need it for your safety. If you are the owner of a website, you need to have an SSL; it is as simple as that. In today’s world of the Internet, an SSL certificate is no longer considered to be a luxury. SSL is a digital certificate that actually authenticates the website’s identity that enables an encrypted connection.
The complete form of SSL is Secure Socket Layer, and it creates an encrypted link between the web server and the browser for the safe transfer of data. Companies and online businesses need SSL certificates to provide users with a secure online transaction platform. This will keep the information of the user private and hard to discover online by attackers. SSL is not a new thing; it was discovered more than 25 years ago and has gone through many iterations throughout these years.
Each version of SSL became ineffective after some time. As a result, newer versions have been released to keep the security top-notch. The latest version of SSL is TLS which stands for Transport Layer Security.
If a website is asking for a user to sign in or enter their personal details, SSL is required to keep these interactions between the server and the client private. Also, it makes the website to be more authentic and gives it a better ranking on search engine result pages. When a website doesn’t have an SSL certificate, the web browser puts a warning on it saying “Not Secure”. This makes the website look untrustworthy, and users will not stick to it longer and, most of the time, move to some other website to gain the same information.
Advantages of HTTPS
The advantages that you get when using HTTPS in your network are:
One of the essential advantages you get is added security and trust. With HTTPS, you are preventing users from facing man-in-the-middle attacks. These can be launched from compromised and insecure networks. Hackers can use different techniques to steal the confidential information of the customers.
With the implementation of HTTPS, you are also getting SSL that secures the data transmitted between the server and the browser during the user-client session when they are interacting with your website. SSL is one of the most critical components in the realm of data protection. Especially after the new GDPR legislation, which is developed to protect the personal data of the user on the Internet.
The green padlock on the left side of the URL bar ensures that all your data is kept hidden and is private to you and the server only. This gives customers greater peace of mind that a website can be trusted with its credentials. This will also help in improving your conversion and loyalty of customers.
Increment in SEO Search Value
If a website has HTTPS written in front of the URL instead of WWW then the website has a clear advantage over those that are still keeping the old HTTP protocol for transferring the data. This is the fact that came straight from Google back in 2015.
When it comes to putting a business online, no individual can afford to overlook mobile technology. It is vital to make your website work like a charm when it is being loaded on a mobile screen. Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are now used for optimizing the website’s content for smartphones. AMP can only work with websites that have HTTPS protocol. This has also led many of the new web browsers to follow the same path as AMP. As a result, if your website doesn’t have the SSL certificate, they will not show your website to the user or give them the warning to access the content of the website at their own risk.
So this is what HTTPS is all about. Now, if you think about whether you need to change your website from HTTP to HTTPS, then our recommendation would be to do it at the earliest. The earlier you do it, the better it will be for you. HTTPS is now a standard norm to find whether the website is safe to use or not. As a result, if you are not using HTTPS, you are missing a big chunk of users on your website. So implement it along with an SSL certificate to make your website more secure and trustworthy in the eyes of the users.