HTTP vs HTTPS: What is the difference?

Have you seen that some websites still use HTTP instead of HTTPS? What does it mean? Is there any difference? If you are building or already own a website, this interests you.

What’s HTTP?

HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the application layer protocol that allows communication between different systems. Its creation meant the base for data communication through the world wide web. It permits the data transfer from a web server to a browser for users to see websites.

Shortly, when you type http:// before the domain name you request, this allows the browser’s connection over HTTP for sending and receiving data packets. There’s a TCP handshake before the request is received by the HTTP server that hosts the site. Then the server answers with a message that supplies status information about this process. 

What’s HTTPS?

HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is an improved and secure HTTP. Technically speaking, HTTPS generates encryption codes or session keys that must be certified by an authority. Due to its security, users without authorization won’t access others’ information. How? Well, it encrypts HTTP requests and answers using TLS (or SSL in the past). If an outsider access the exchanged information, it wouldn’t be readable. The message will look like a group of random characters.

What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS is security. HTTPS is secure because of its encryption function. A single “S” in its name makes a big difference.

HTTP is a stateless system. In user requests connection, the browser sends the request to the server that will answer loading the requested website. It doesn’t protect the information exchanged. It’s focus on transferring and providing the information, than on its integrity. This means risks for both sides of the communication because criminals can access, read, and alter the information they exchange.

With HTTP, if users provide sensitive information (card numbers, username, password, etc.), everything will appear clearly written, plain text, making it very easy for criminals to steal it or alter it. HTTPS will protect that information by encrypting it.

Besides, since HTTPS uses Transport Layer Security (TLS), this authenticates the server to which the user is connected to, for avoiding the data from being interfered with. 

To summarizing, HTTPS provides security functionality, while HTTP doesn’t. Server authentication, data encryption, and communication’s protection not to be manipulated are not minor benefits. 

Why is HTTPS a must?

The Internet is not a secure place a long time ago. Everybody can be a target for criminals. Privacy and data protection are in strong demand. Therefore, business owners make big efforts to offer security for users. 

In 2014, Google encouraged the use of HTTPS to strengthen security. Especially for websites that involved the exchange of financial information. Websites using HTTPS would be ranked better by the search engine. 

In 2017, Google announced that Chrome would be red flagging websites using HTTP to warn users navigating on not secure websites. 

Currently, HTTPS is the obliged standard for all sites that request payment information, according to the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard.

HTTPS means security for domains, and with time, it has also become a sign of trustability. When users see it in the domain, they are more willing to interact with it and complete their experience with a purchase.

Conclusion

Do you need more reasons to prefer HTTPS? Security is a priority and even an obligation for websites’ owners. The difference between it and HTTP can make a big difference for your website’s security and success!

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