It seems that the stories involving Internet privacy and security always attract special attention from internet users and many businesses. Since the internet was created, protocols that connect clients to web servers have seen remarkable developments. The two most common and widely adopted application protocols are HTTP and HTTPS.
HTTP and HTTPS are the prefixes to every URL on the internet. Ever since there have been websites, there has been HyperText Transfer Protocol or HTTP. However, since 1994 when HTTPS was introduced, which contained additional security for websites and website visitors and now becomes the priority of many webmasters. In today’s blog, we will first learn what HTTP and HTTPS then discuss the pros and cons of implementing HTTPS.
What are HTTP and HTTPS?
What is HTTP?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Now, this is probably the most widely used protocol in the world today. HTTP is the protocol that is used for viewing web pages on the internet. So when you type in a web address like google.com you’ll notice that HTTP is automatically added at the beginning of the web address and this indicates that you are now using HTTP to retrieve this web page. Now in standard HTTP, all the information is sent in cleartext. So all the information that is exchanged between your computer and that web server, which includes any text that you type on that website.
- Addressing: HTTP assigns IP address with a noticeable name to make sure that it can be recognized quickly in the World Wide Web.
- Accessibility: When the site is browsed for the first time, all of the HTTP pages will be saved inside the internet caches known as the page cache. Therefore once the site is visited again, it can reduce the time needed to display a representation of a resource.
- Caching infrastructure: HTTP heavily relies on and takes advantage of a caching infrastructure deployed worldwide: local cache in browsers, org caches in HTTP proxies, ISP caches, reverse proxies, etc.
- Latency: As handshaking is carried out at the initial connection establishment stage, it offers reduced latency in subsequent requests as there will be no handshaking procedure following those.
From a business perspective, HTTP offers your company online access to customers within your target market. Besides, it saves you the cost of paying for an SSL certificate annually.
- Server availability: The client does not close the connection when all the input it needs has been received. Therefore, the server will not be available during this time period.
- Security is one of the main problems of HTTP when it comes to users’ data. Because it’s transferred in cleartext, it’s vulnerable to anybody who wants it, such as hackers. Now normally this would not be a big deal if you were just browsing regular websites and no sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers are being used. But if you were to type in personal information, like your name, address, phone number, passwords, or credit card information, that info goes from your computer and has to travel across the public internet to get to that web server. And this makes that kind of info vulnerable because a hacker somewhere on the internet can listen in when user data is being transferred and steal it.
If the site of your company uses HTTP, it means you’re risking your business sales. Your company’s sites always attract users’ data and receive personal information from customers who trust your business. A web browser will recognize the risk of HTTP sites and send a warning message. Internet Explorer, for example, will display a “Not secure” or “Dangerous” notification that warns visitors about visiting the website, which makes website users leave the site. Therefore, if you want to help your business thrive long-term, say goodbye to HTTP and consider HTTPS connections.
What is HTTPS?
So the problem with security is why HTTPS was developed. HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, which is a secure version of the HTTP protocol. HTTPS encrypts the data that is retrieved by HTTP. It ensures that all the data that’s being transferred over the internet between computers and servers, secured by making it impossible to read. And it does this by using encryption algorithms to scramble the content that’s being transferred. So for example, if you were to go to a site that requires you to enter personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, you will notice that an ‘S’ will be added to the HTTP in the web address. And in addition to the ‘S’ being added, a lot of web browsers will also show a padlock symbol in the address bar to indicate that HTTPS is being used.
- Data Protection
Implementing an SSL certificate secures any data transmitted between server and browser during a user session interacting with your site. This is a key component in the realms of data protection. Although SSL certificates require an additional cost, they are a good way to make sure you’re encrypting your visitors’ information. Sometimes you can see that some website hosting providers provide SSL certificates for free.
Identity Verification: A certificate guarantees the information a browser is receiving originates from the expected domain. It’s a guarantee that when a user sends data, it’s being sent to the right place, and not to a malicious third-party.
- Search Engine Visibility
HTTPS gets more preference than HTTP for search engine visibility by Google and other search engines. If your company is building a website and deal with important info like money transfer, username, and password; you should consider implementing HTTPS instead of HTTP.
- HTTPS used as a ranking signal
Google now uses HTTPS as a ranking signal. There have been positive results displayed, so they are beginning to actively implement HTTPS as a ranking signal. It will only hold this lightweight until a significant number of webmasters have had the chance to switch from using HTTP to HTTPS as an effort to keep users and sites alike safe on the web.
- The SEO advantages of using HTTPS
HTTPS also helps with search engine optimization (SEO), hence your search results. If you’ve ever looked for your site, services, or products on a search engine like Google, you’ve probably wondered why you weren’t number one. It’s because of SEO.
SEO is the practice of optimizing websites according to the ranking factors of search engines, which search engines use to organize their search results. HTTPS is one of Google’s ranking factors for search results. A site that uses HTTPS sends a positive signal to Google Analytics because it offers a more secure user experience. Like all search engines, Google is in the business of providing people the experiences they want. So apart from content, choosing to use HTTPS is also a good way to help with SEO make sites appear first on Google.
There are almost no problems when it comes to the adoption of HTTPS. Here are some disadvantages of HTTPS:
- It uses a lot of server resources
- It’s also vulnerable to trivial man-in-the-middle attacks in some cases
- Proxy caching problems: Any public caching that might have happened cannot happen. ISPs and others will not be able to cache encrypted content.
Do you really need SSL/TLS?
Now HTTPS protects the data by using one of two protocols. And one of these protocols is SSL. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a form of website security. It uses public-key cryptography to ensure data security. An SSL certificate serves to verify the identity of the server via a certificate authority and provides the keys that are used to encrypt. So basically this is how SSL works. When the computer connects to a website that’s using SSL, the computer’s web browser will ask the website to identify itself. Then the webserver will send the computer a copy of its SSL certificate. An SSL certificate is a small digital certificate that is used to authenticate the identity of a website. Basically, it’s used to let your computer know that the website you’re visiting is trustworthy. So then the computer’s browser will check to make sure that it trusts the certificate. And if it does, it will send a message to the webserver. Finally. the web server will respond with an acknowledgment so an SSL session can proceed.
And the other protocol that HTTPS can use is called TLS. TLS or transport layer security is the latest industry-standard cryptographic protocol it is the successor to SSL. And it’s based on the same specifications. And like SSL, it also authenticates the server, client, and encrypts the data. It’s also important to point out that a lot of websites are now using HTTPS by default on their websites regardless if important info is going to be exchanged or not. And a lot of this has to do with Google. Because Google is now flagging websites not secure if they are not protected with SSL. And if a website is not SSL protected, Google will penalize that website in its search rankings. So that’s why now if you go to any major website you’ll notice that HTTPS is being used rather than standard HTTP.
This article provides you with deeper insights into HTTP and HTTPS. If you want to secure what your web pages receive from your customers, HTTPS should be used as a matter of course. We hope you love this content.