Whenever you are browsing, you have probably noticed either HTTP:// or https:// in the address bar of a browser.
To put it simply, both of these are protocols through which the information of a particular website is exchanged between the Web Server and the Web Browser.
What’s the difference between these two?
[Image Source: Instantssl ]
What is HTTP?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It allows for the communication between different systems.
It is used to transfer data from a web server to a browser in order to allow users to view web pages.
What is HTTPS?
Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to.
This simply means that all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted.
HTTPS is used to protect confidential online transactions like online banking and online shopping order forms.
Read: RSA VS DSA.
In most web browsers like Firefox, Internet Explorer and Chrome, a padlock icon in the address bar is used to indicate that a site is using HTTPS connection.
Advantages of HTTP
- HTTP can be implemented with other protocol on the internet and other networks.
- HTTP pages are stored on computer and internet caches, thus quick access.
- HTTP is platform independent therefore allowing cross-platform porting.
- It does not need any runtime support.
- It is usable over Firewalls and global applications are possible.
- It is not connection-oriented, thus no network overhead to create and maintain session state and information.
Advantages of HTTPS
- Sites running over HTTPS have a redirect in place.
- It allows users to perform secure e-commerce transactions and online banking.
- The use of SSL technology protects users and also build trust.
Limitations of HTTP
- There are privacy concerns since anyone can see information being transferred.
- HTTP lacks in data integrity making it possible for anyone to alter the content since no encryption method is used.
- HTTP is susceptible to eavesdropping and anyone can intercept a request and steal sensitive data being transmitted.
Limitations of HTTPS
- HTTPS protocol prevents stealing confidential information from the pages cached on the browser.
- SSL data can only be encrypted during transmission on the network.
- HTTPS increases computational overhead and also network overhead.
HTTP VS HTTPS
Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS
[Image Source: SeoPressor ]
- HTTP is an abbreviation of Hypertext Transfer Protocol whereas HTTPS is a short abbreviation of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
- HTTP is less secure as data is vulnerable to attacks whereas HTTPS makes use of encryption techniques to secure data.
- HTTP uses port 80 while HTTPS uses port 443.
- HTTP URLs start with http:// whereas HTTPS URLs begin with https://.
- HTTP is best used with websites designed for only information consumption like blogs whereas HTTPS is a good fit for websites that collect private information such as credit card numbers.
- HTTP does not use any kind of encryption method before transmission whereas HTTPS scrambles the data before transmission thus more secure.
- HTTP operates at TCP/IP level whereas HTTPS does not have any separate protocol. HTTPS operates using HTTP but uses encrypted TSL/SSL connection.
- An HTTP website does not need SSL whereas HTTPS website requires an SSL certificate.
- HTTP websites don’t use encryption whereas HTTPS websites use data encryption.
- HTTP does not improve search rankings whereas HTTPS helps to improve search engine rankings.
- HTTP is faster than HTTPS.
- HTTP is vulnerable to hackers whereas HTTPS is secure as data is encrypted before it sent over the network.
- HTTP works at application layer while HTTPS works at the transport layer.
- HTTP does not require any certificates whereas HTTPS needs SSL certificates.
The most important difference between the two protocols is the SSL certificate. Actually, HTTPS is basically an HTTP protocol with additional security.
However, the additional security can be extremely important especially for websites that take sensitive data from its users, such as credit card information and passwords.
How Does HTTPS Work?
HTTPS pages use one of two secure protocols to encrypt communications:
- Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).
- Transport Layer Security (TLS).
Both the TLS and SSL protocols use public key infrastructure (PKI) system.
This is an asymmetric system that uses two keys to encrypt communications.
Read: Cryptographic hash functions.
A public key and a private key.
Data encrypted with the public key can only be decrypted by the private key and vice-versa.
The private key should be kept protected and should only be accessible by the owner.
Conversely, the public key is distributed to anybody and everybody that needs to be able to decrypt information that was encrypted with the private key.
What is an HTTPS Certificate?
When you request an HTTPS connection to a webpage, the website first sends its SSL certificate to your browser.
The certificate contains the public key needed to start a secure session.
From the first exchange, your browser and the website then start the SSL handshake.
Simply, the SSL handshake involves the generation of shared secrets to establish a uniquely secure connection between your browser and the website.
Why is an SSL Certificate Required?
All communications sent over HTTP connections are in plaintext form and can be read by attacks that manage to intercept the connection between your browser and the website.
This is endangering your sensitive formation such as credit card details and social security number.
By using an HTTPS connection, all communications are securely encrypted.
This means that even if an attacker manages to intercept the connection they will be unable to decrypt the original data.
Benefits of Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
- Customer information like credit card numbers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted.
- Visitors can verify you are a registered business and that you own the domain.
- Customers are more likely to trust and complete purchases from sites that use HTTPS.
The process of Changing from HTTP To HTTPS
If you are familiar with the backend of a website, then switching to HTTPS is very simple.
Here are basic steps to follow:
- First, buy an SSL certificate and a dedicated IP address from your hosting provider.
- Install and configure the SSL certificate.
- Perform a full back -up of your site in case you need to revert back.
- Configure any hard-internal links within your website, from HTTP to HTTPS.
- Redirect any external links you control to HTTPS, such as directory listings.
- Update htaccess applications, such as Apache Web Server, LiteSpeed, Nginx Config, and your internet services manager function (such as Windows Web Server), to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS.
- If you are using a content delivery network (CDN), update your CDN’s SSL settings.
- Implement 301 redirects on a page-by-page basis.
- Update any links you use in marketing automation tools, such as email links.
- Update any landing pages and paid search links.
- Set up an HTTPS site in Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
We can conclude that HTTPS is much more secure compared to HTTP.