As for HTTP vs HTTPS comparison, knowing the difference might save you from online troubles. The internet is a staple of our lives – we take it for granted and most people use the internet on a daily basis. We search Google information on different subjects, we look at news websites, and we upload to social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Each of these actions requires an internet connection and it is something we don’t even think about.
Even more so, we don’t consider the underlying protocols and systems the internet uses to show us information. It is important, however, to have a basic knowledge of these systems, and which ones are preferable to use.
In this article, we look specifically at application layer protocols – what is HTTPS and HTTP. These protocols are used to distribute information over the web, and we use them to access our favorite websites. There are key differences between HTTP and HTTPS, and it is important to understand why HTTPS is considered the better option for website access – find out more in the below text!
What is HTTP?
HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol
- Initially Introduced: 1991
- International Standard: RFC 1945 / HTTP/1.0
- Developed By: CERN / IETF / W3C
HTTP is the original application layer protocol that is used to transfer hypermedia across the internet. It is essentially the building blocks of the web and allows us to view, share, and transfer web pages and web content in the form of hyperlinks and hypertext documents.
As a whole, the internet is based on the World Wide Web, HTTP, and HTML – these three cornerstones are what most websites are based on. There are of course other programming languages and means of transferal, but these three components form the original internet.
The World Wide Web is a vast information system and essentially the storage medium of the internet. We access information on the web written predominantly in HTML code via an HTTP connection.
HTTP was developed in the early ’90s and until the realization of HTTPS, it has been the main protocol used for creating internet “sessions”.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS – Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure
- Initially Introduced: 1994
- International Standard: RFC 2818
- Developed By: Various
HTTPS protocol is an extension of HTTP. It is a natural development of HTTP and adds an additional layer of security. HTTP connections are transmitted via plain text. As a result, they can be intercepted and tampered with by hackers.
In contrast, HTTPS encrypts the data using advanced SSL encryption (secure socket layer). This creates a secure connection between the web browser and web server and means that if hackers did intercept any data, they could not do anything with it, as it is encrypted and turned into an unreadable form.
The process is simple, but it uses advanced technology to provide excellent security. First, any information transferred between the web browsers and servers is encrypted via an SSL certificate. An additional layer of security – TLS (Transport Layer Security) is also utilized. This improves data integrity and prevents the data from being modified or corrupted.
HTTP vs HTTPS: Which is the Better Protocol to Use?
In basic terms, HTTPS protocol is the better one to use. In other words, you should generally only access websites that offer a secure HTTPS connection. But why is this so? We have listed the main differences and advantages below for both users, and website owners.
Difference between HTTP and HTTPS for people browsing websites
For the general public accessing websites, you should generally try to only access sites that offer an HTTPS protocol of connection. That dual layer of SSL and TLS security can make a huge difference and it could potentially save you money and stress.
For example, let’s say that you access an online store that only has an HTTP connection. If you purchase something from this store, you are sending your bank details and personal information over an unsecured connection. If a hacker intercepts that data, they could easily steal and use your details and you could be compromised.
Let’s now say that the website offered a secure HTTPS connection in that same scenario. If you made a purchase, your bank details and personal info would be encrypted. If a hacker did somehow manage to intercept the data (they wouldn’t be able to anyway), it would be an unreadable form and they couldn’t do anything with it.
You can therefore see the importance of HTTPS, and why as a general internet user, you should only access sites with an HTTPS connection.
HTTPS vs HTTP: For website owners/developers
For web developers and businesses with websites, HTTPS is a must. It is a basic feature you should provide as it offers several benefits over HTTP:
Firstly, using an HTTPS connection improves your security greatly. If you only provide an HTTP connection, users accessing your website and any connections made to your web servers could be a potential threat. As HTTP has no encryption and is essentially plain text, this makes your web servers vulnerable. Users could unwittingly send harmful data to your servers and disrupt your business.
Many business owners will not know that using HTTPS also offers a minor SEO boost. Top search engines like Google actually promote the use of HTTPS. Google has stated numerous times that they provide a small rankings bump to sites that use HTTPS. This is because it provides a safer experience for customers, and as a result, your company is viewed as more trustworthy and reputable.
Better user experience
Finally, using HTTPS also provides a better experience for your users. If you use HTTP, you are potentially put your users at risk. You are establishing an unsecured connection with them, and they could potentially have sensitive data corrupted or stolen.
By using HTTPS, you are showing consideration towards your users, and as a result, you build a bond of trust with them. As a result, your reputation and standing should also indirectly improve.
HTTP vs HTTPS – A Clear Winner?
We hope you have found this article beneficial. You should now have a better understanding of the two protocols, and why HTTPS is the clear winner. As time progresses, HTTP is being phased out, and most websites will eventually use only HTTPS connections. We strongly recommend using a decent antivirus software to stay safe while browsing online.