What Is The Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS?

Have you taken a closer look at the URL of a website? At the beginning of it, there are either http:// or https:// options.

These options showcase a key difference in the web pages you visit, and if you want to know why, feel free to find out what they mean here.

What Is The Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS?

You don’t have to be interested in cyber security to notice these, but understanding the difference can help make your website more secure.

What Is HTTP?

HTTP is the hypertext transfer protocol that is at the beginning of most URLs. It was created by Tim Berners-Lee in the 90s when the Internet was still in its early stages of popular usage.

In the case of HTTP, it allows web browsers to communicate with servers to exchange information.

Referred to as a stateless system by some, HTTP enables you to connect on demand.

All you need to do is click on a link and request a connection to the server through your browser. By doing this, you can open the page. 

HTTP is an application layer protocol focusing on presenting info to the user. It doesn’t care how the information travels between places, thus making it more insecure.

HTTP can be intercepted and altered easily, making both the user and the server vulnerable. 

Due to this, many pages have shifted away from HTTP, and many web pages use HTTPS instead.

What Is HTTPS?

As a younger variation of HTTP, HTTPS is essentially the same as they both use the hypertext transfer protocol to request information.

However, that’s not to say they’re exactly the same. See, HTTPS is the hypertext transfer protocol, but the S is added as an abbreviation from Secure.

The security of HTTPS is powered by the Transport Layer Security (TLS), which is a successor to the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

These are standard security tech that helps to establish an encrypted connection between the server and the browser.

Without HTTPS, any personal data that you include on the site, such as your username, password, bank details, or any other vulnerable information, is only presented as plaintext.

When you submit form details on a HTTP site, the information is susceptible to getting intercepted by malicious sources, so you should ensure that when you enter your form details, you check the URL for the https:// at the beginning.

Along with encrypting any data transmitted between your browser and server, the TLS will authenticate the server too.

By doing this, your server and your browser are protected from any external tampering.

While HTTP is used to get the data to your screen, the use of HTTPS allows it to get there safely.

Why Use HTTPS?

Why Use HTTPS?

Many businesses have switched to utilizing HTTPS in their URLs to offer more security for their customers.

If your site is collecting any payment information, then HTTPS is a compulsory requirement to ensure your customers’ safety according to the PCI Data Security Standard.

By using secure encryption, your site visitors will understand that their data won’t be at risk.

The general public has become more concerned than ever about data privacy and security, so they are more likely to support your business if you use HTTPS.

When they see a HTTP connection when shopping, they’re more likely to abandon the cart as they’re concerned about their payment details.

If they enter their financial information, they want to ensure that you’re looking after their information properly.

Even when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Google has been classing HTTPS as a ranking signal since 2014.

When companies and businesses utilize HTTPS, they’ve noticed that they have higher SERPs and page visibility than when they used HTTP. 

Since 2018, Google has marked all HTTP sites as non-secure in an effort to expand the usage of HTTPS by businesses.

So if you’re still using HTTP, your web page will always have a warning on Chrome to warn users that the web page is not secure.

It’s not only Chrome. Firefox has been flagging HTTP sites as non-secure too. 

What You Need To Do Before Switching To HTTPS

Nowadays, your business has many benefits to utilizing HTTPS for some extra security on your site.

In fact, many hosting companies will set up HTTPS for you. Look at the SSL Certificates a hosting service offers, and they’ll do all the work for you. Of course, this will cost you a little bit extra. 

If you want to switch to HTTPS without paying extra, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps first.

I’ve mentioned that you need to get an SSL certificate, which you can get from a trusted Certificate Authority.

Once you have one of these, you can install it on your site via its hosting account.

After that, you need to set up 301 redirects by editing the .htaccess file in the root folder of your site.

To do this, you should add these codes: 

  • RewriteEngine On
  • RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
  • Rewrite Rule (.*) https://%{HTTP_HOST}%REQUEST_URI} [R=301, L]

Once you’ve done this, notify the search engines that the addresses of your site have changed, so you want any visitors to your site to be automatically redirected to the HTTPS address.

If that does seem to be too complicated for you, I do stand by my earlier opinion of contacting your host to see any SSL services that they provide.

Final Thoughts

The Internet continues to grow by the day, with over four billion users and consumers. It’s important that your site remains safe and secure.

By using HTTPS, you know that your site will be one of them, and with browsers putting regulations in place, it’s clear that HTTP is slowly becoming left behind. 

If you want your business to be safe from being flagged as non-secure, you should transition to HTTPS to ensure that customers will remain on your site.

Just make sure you follow the steps above to do so correctly, and your web page will benefit.

Justin Shaw