Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS)
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for hypertext transfer protocol secure and is the encrypted version of HTTP, the primary protocol used to transfer data across the internet or a network. The HTTPS protocol makes it possible for web users to transmit sensitive data - such as login credentials, credit card numbers and personal information. It is an essential part of today's website security efforts.
This protocol is quickly becoming the standard for all websites, and modern browsers recently started flagging non-HTTPS sites as “Not Secure” with the intention of making the web more secure. In order to encrypt their site’s communication and protect users, website owners must purchase an SSL certificate or choose a web hosting provider with built-in HTTPS and SSL protection.
How does HTTPS work?
HTTPS uses TLS (transport layer security) or SSL (secure sockets layer) to encrypt HTTP communication. This type of security uses a public key infrastructure to attach cryptographic key pairs to the identity of entities. Each pair includes a key made available for anyone to use, known as the “public key”, and one that is kept secure, known as the “private key”.
Data encrypted with one of these keys can only be decrypted using the other one, enabling servers and clients to transmit data that cannot be read by external entities that may try to intercept the communication.
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Advantage of HTTPS
There is a long list of reasons why HTTPS has become the standard protocol for web communications:
Privacy. HTTPS protects users and keeps their data secure by preventing external entities from reading private information.
User experience. Sites that don’t use HTTPS protocol are flagged as not secure, resulting in greater bounce rate and loss of customer trust.
SEO. Search engines use site protocol as a ranking signal, making HTTPS sites more likely to rank in high positions than their HTTP counterparts.
Data integrity. The encryption of data by the HTTPS protocol keeps it secure even if a harmful third party gets hold of it.
Compatibility. Modern browsers are starting to introduce features that can be used to block sites that don’t use HTTPS protocol, therefore including this ensures your site's compatibility.
Site performance. Because HTTPS encrypts and reduces the size of the data transmitted between server and client, websites using this protocol often report faster performance.
Differences between HTTP and HTTPS
While HTTP and HTTPS are not technically separate protocols, there are several major disparities between the two of them:
URL: Web addresses using HTTPS protocol start with https:// before the domain name, and appear next to a lock in the address bar, allowing visitors to quickly see the site is secure. On the other hand, web pages using HTTP start with http:// and appear next to a red alert sign followed by the words “Not Secure”.
Encryption: HTTP transfers data between server and client in hypertext format, while HTTPS does so in an encrypted format that cannot be read or modified by external parties.
Authentication: Unlike HTTP, the HTTPS protocol requires domain validation by the Certificate Authority (CA) in order to avoid fake or fraudulent websites.
When creating a website, it's important to make sure your site has HTTPS, in order to make sure it's secure.