HTTP and HTTPS in 2023: Everything You Need To Know
If you have a good eye for detail, you may have noticed that not all web URLs begin the same way. Some start with http:// and others start with https://. That is, some web URLs have an “s” tacked on to the end of the “http” prefix. Why is this? For security purposes, of course.
Basically, the difference of that “s” is essentially a difference in security. HTTPS provides a modest amount of security for Internet connections by encrypting communications. HTTP sends all information as basically text. Although HTTPS can be defeated by determined adversaries, it is foolhardy not to use it, particularly if you are engaged in e-commerce.
Continue reading for more about HTTP and HTTPS.
The Basics of HTTP and HTTPS
As we said, the difference between HTTP and HTTPS is the amount of security each provides. However, they are related. To understand the two, let’s look at HTTP first.
HTTP is sometimes referred to as a “stateless system” because it allows for connection on demand between two computers. When you click on a link on a webpage, your web browser (be it on a phone, laptop, or whatever), sends a HTTP Connect request to a separate server which opens a page in response.
At a more technical level, according to Guru99.com, “HTTP is an application layer network protocol which is built on top of TCP.” As such a protocol, it uses Hypertext structured to establish the aforementioned link.
HTTPS provides that same behavior but also has an additional level of functionality operating at a lower sublayer of the same application layer of HTTP. This lower layer is responsible for encrypting and decrypting messages as appropriate.
The point to recognize is that HTTPS isn’t a different protocol. It is an amalgamation of HTTP with an encryption/decryption sublayer (the SSL/TLS connection).
Another technical difference between the two is which port on the system each uses. HTTPS uses port 443 while HTTP uses port 80. But, for our purposes, that is a minor consideration.
HTTP. What Does It Mean?
So, even knowing the above, you may still have questions about HTTP. What does it mean? What does it do? First off, HTTP stands for “hypertext transfer protocol.” As for what it does, it offers rules and standards that direct how information is sent and received across the Internet.
It was developed in the early 1990’s by Tim Berners-Lee to provide a standard network protocol for communication between web browsers and servers.
What Does HTTPS Stand For?
In contrast, HTTPS stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.” It is a far more security conscious and advanced form of HTTP. It uses either SSL or TLS (usually TLS, as SSL is now deprecated) to protect sensitive information by encrypting the entire message
The critical point is that without HTTPS all your data—like your username or password or even credit card information—is easily hacked. That is, of course, the reason secure protocols like HTTPS were developed.
How Do HTTP and HTTPS Differ?
The critical difference between both protocols is security. Both HTTP and HTTPS were developed to provide for data transfer, but they are not both secure protocols. Of the two, only HTTPS makes any attempt to provide for the secure transfer of information. There are other differences, but that’s the main one.
This has an obvious result. “Unfortunately, this means that HTTP can be intercepted and potentially altered, making both the information and the information receiver (that’s you) vulnerable” (globalsign.com).
The following list summarizes the basic differences between the two:
- HTTP provides an unsecure manner of connection while HTTPS provides for a connection using SSL or TLS Digital Security Certificate.
- HTTP operates at the top application layer while HTTPS works at the lower transport layer.
- HTTP uses port 80 compared to port 443 for HTTPS.
- HTTP sends plain text data while HTTPS sends encrypted data.
- HTTP is faster (HTTPS requires additional computation time)
Although they are related, it is clear that HTTPS is the more advanced and more secure option.
Which Protocol Is Better, HTTP or HTTPS?
Depending upon your purposes, either one could be better than the other—but not for business. If you are doing any kind of business on the Internet where security is an issue, HTTPS is clearly superior .This is true, even if it is just collecting email addresses for a newsletter. The info you collect is sensitive. Your subscribers will appreciate the effort on your part to protect it.
In certain situations, there may be a few advantages to HTTP, but those situation usually entail a personal site that someone is only using for pleasure.
All such HTTP advantages can really be summed up easily. HTTP is simpler, and, therefore, quicker and easier to run. If that is all your site requires, it may be all you need. Most businesses, however, require more care and better security, not less.
Additionally, HTTP is being flagged as unsecure by a growing number of web browsers, search engines, and other technologies that influence traffic levels. If you want your site to be successful, you really need HTTPS.
What Are the Most Notable HTTPS and SSL Certificate Benefits
Every site using HTTPS requires an SSL certificate in order to work. The SSL Certificate benefits include such things as allowing for the authentication of your site. Basically, when traffic arrives on your site, they will be informed that a third-party has verified your “trustworthiness” because of the certificate.
For a clearer picture, here is a list of SSL Certificate benefits and the advantages of HTTPS:
- A redirect can be used to send traffic from an HTTP URL to your HTTPS URL.
- E-commerce transactions can be done securely
- The SSL technology will help build trust by protecting all users of your site
- The SSL Certificate that authenticates the site is verified by an independent third party
It is by no means a panacea. There will always be hackers out there but upgrading to HTTPS and getting an SSL Certificate is a necessity for the serious businessperson. Additionally, it is becoming “expected.”
According to Wikipedia, “In 2016, a campaign by the Electronic Frontier Foundation with the support of web browser developers led to the protocol becoming more prevalent.” In the last 10 years or so, more and more browsers and search engines have been shifting the Internet to HTTPS. The days of HTTP are numbered.
Understanding the significance of HTTPS and its advantages over HTTP are critical aspects of SEO. Search engines are beginning to require HTTPS as are web browsers. It is the wave of the future. If for any reason you are unable to heed and deal with security issues, or for any reason have an excess of work, just turn to assistants who offer white label SEO for agencies that are in this market. We at Lasting Trend are prepared. It’s time to surf!
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