What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

Back in the day, numerous websites used to use HTTP. Yet back in 2014, Google recommended that sites switch to HTTPS as a ranking signal. Up till then, only eCommerce websites bothered to use HTTPS.

As motivation for changing to HTTPS, Google revealed that it would be providing HTTPS sites with a minor rankings bump, which would make sites that did not switch over lose out on ranking by giving an edge to competitors that did.

What Is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and it is a protocol – or a prescribed order and syntax for presenting information. This protocol is used for transferring data over a network. Most of the information sent over the Internet, including the information sent via website content and API calls, uses the HTTP protocol. There are two primary types of HTTP messages: requests and responses.

What is HTTPS?

Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the main protocol employed to send information between a web browser and a website. HTTPS is encrypted to improve the security of data transfer. This security feature is essential when users transmit sensitive information, for example, logging into a bank account, email service, or credit card provider.

Websites that require login credentials should undoubtedly use HTTPS. Websites that do not use HTTPS are marked differently in modern web browsers and for the most part, should not be trusted. You can identify them by looking for a padlock in the URL bar to signify the webpage is secure. Web browsers take HTTPS seriously. Google Chrome and every other browser in existence flag non-HTTPS websites as not secure.

If you want your website to use HTTPS, you will need to purchase and install an SSL certificate.

How does HTTPS work?

HTTPS creates communication between the browser and the webserver. HTTPS uses the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol for making communication. The newest version of SSL is now called TSL. 

HTTPS uses the traditional HTTP protocol and adds a layer of SSL/TSL on top of it. The methodology of HTTP and HTTPS remain the same as the browsers and servers are still communicating using the HTTP protocol. Nonetheless, this is accomplished over a secure SSL connection. The SSL connection is accountable for the encryption of the information in order to ensure data security. 

In order to make your website secure with HTTPS, you must get an SSL certificate.

How to get an SSL

You must get a security certificate in order to enable HTTPS for your website. The certificate is issued by a certificate authority (CA), which takes certain measures to verify that your web address really belongs to your company, therefore shielding your customers from man-in-the-middle attacks. When installing your certificate, ensure a high level of security by choosing a 2048-bit key. If you already have a certificate with a more vulnerable key (1024-bit), then make sure to upgrade it to 2048 bits. 

In the beginning, many years ago, SSL took some effort and cost in getting set up with HTTPs in your browser. Today, the process is much more easy, and there are many providers of certificates supplying free SSL certificates. An SSL certificate is only trustworthy with the right certification. In order to add an SSL certificate, a website must have passed verification held by Certificate Authorities. If the application and supporting documentation is approved, it will issue an SSL certificate.

Companies like DigiCert, Comodo, Thawte, Symantec, and GlobalSign are the best-known and most trusted authorities that sell SSL certificates. This is because browsers Chrome, Firefox, and edge as well as operating systems such as Microsoft and iOS, trust that they are legitimate Certificate Authorities and can be relied on to issue trustworthy SSL Certificates.

You’ll find it easier to buy an SSL Certificate from your Domain Registrar. Many respected hosting providers and domain registrars offer SSL certificates in addition to their main product. 

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