Before a decade or so, sites were on the HTTP (unsecured) protocol. But, when Google announced to shift of all HTTP sites to HTTPS (secured) protocol, the site owners started installing the SSL/TLS (Secure Socket Layers/Transport Layer Security) certificates on their unsecured sites to make them secure and for converting them to HTTPS. These SSL certificates were and are a nice blend of verification and encryption. 

So, when HTTP is combined with a strong verification process and robust encryption security it converts to HTTPS. And, we can say that HTTPS is a secured version of HTTP and an ideal option among these two protocols.

Sites dealing with customer data and other sensitive stuff like, banking data, health data, etc. should always use HTTPS.

But, what are these two terminologies? What do they stand for? Is there a simple difference between an extra “S”?

This blog will help enlighten both these concepts, their functioning, and their differences. So, without additional confusion, let’s get continuing.

What is HTTP?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol or HTTP as you name it is a protocol that permits communications between two devices, systems, or networks. Its generally used for browser-server communications to permit users to view their desired web pages.

This protocol transfers web data or hypertext in plain text. Using the Transmission Control Protocol /TCP over port 80, it carries out unsecured data exchanges and communications between the client and the server. 

HTTP is a risky protocol because the exchanges between the two parties are in a plain format that can cause data breaches, identity theft, hacks, and lastly misuse of data.

How HTTP Works?

The absence of SSL/TLS certificates in websites is the HTTP sites that are unsecured.

When a web user wants to visit a website, their browser sends an HTTP request to the server for permitting the user to view the site. These are text lines (communications) carried out between both parties via the Internet. They are all communicated in plain text. 

The server accepts the browser’s request, and establishes an unsecured connection with the client for communication purposes. The server then makes displays the website to the user as per their request.

What is HTTPS?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS as you name it is a secured and encrypted version of the HTTP protocol. This protocol too permits browser-server exchanges but these communications are carried out in a cipher format. The plain text sent by the client/server to the other party is converted into a cipher text via encryption security. Encryption is carried out with the help of cryptographic algorithms and hence the deciphering process for data misuse becomes a tough call for hackers who constantly try to invade networks. 

HTTPS uses port 443 for data exchanges and it’s termed as a secured version of HTTP. As stated before, when HTTP is combined with an SSL certificate (HTTP over SSL) it creates an encrypted communication channel between the user’s browser and the server, thus ensuring the security of site data and other sensitive information.

HTTPS is a secured protocol because the data exchanges are carried out in cipher form, thus preventing data breaches and identity theft.

How HTTPS Works?

The presence of SSL/TLS certificates in websites is HTTPS sites which are secured.

When a web user wants to visit a website secured with an SSL certificate, their browser sends a request to the server for permitting the user to view the site. The server accepts this request and an HTTPS connection is established by using the secured SSL protocol between both these parties through the internet. SSL helps ensure data confidentiality, data integrity, and site authenticity.

A secured communication tunnel is established between the client and the server and all the text transfers are carried out in cipher text. When plain text is encrypted, it is converted into a cipher form which is unreadable and looks gibberish.

The server later displays the website to the user as per their request. All HTTPS data transfers are carried out in an encrypted format using asymmetric encryption.

About Asymmetric Encryption:

The data is encrypted by the user using the public key and the same is decrypted by the intended recipient using the private key. This encrypted (cipher) text refrains intruders from misusing the site data.

  • HTTP vs HTTPS: Here is the Difference

Let’s get detail difference of HTTP vs HTTPS

AcronymThe acronym of HTTP is Hypertext Transfer Protocol.The acronym of HTTP is Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.
Security & VulnerabilityIt is an unsecured protocol and hence is vulnerable to cyber-attacks.It is a secured protocol and hence is secured against cyber-attacks.
Port The default port of this protocol is port 80.The default port of this protocol is port 443.
URLThe HTTP URL commences with http://The HTTPS URL commences with https://
UsageIt is ideal for informative blogs, educational sites, and varied sites wherein sensitive stuff is not exchanged or stored.It is ideal for e-commerce industries and other banking/financial sites wherein sensitive data transfers are exchanged and stored.
Text FormatHTTP sites exchange information in plain text which is easily readable by hackers.HTTPS sites exchange data in cipher text which is non-readable by hackers.
Misuse of InformationThe information in plain text can be easily misused.The information in cipher text can’t be easily misused, since it requires the decryption key for the same.
Presence of SSL HTTP sites do not have SSL certificates installed on them.HTTPS sites have SSL certificates installed on them and hence are secured.
Data EncryptionData encryption is not possible in HTTP sites since they don’t have SSL certificate security.Data encryption is possible in HTTPS sites since they are secured with SSL certificates.
Impact on SEO They don’t have an impact on SEO rankings.They have an impact on SEO rankings.
SpeedThe site speed is more since the process of encryption/decryption is missing.The site speed is less since the process of encryption/decryption exists.
TransferThe transfer of text, images, or video is done via web pages.The transfer of text, images, or video is done via a secured network.
LayersHTTP works at the Application Layer.HTTPS works at the Transport Layer.
  • HTTP vs HTTPS: Which One is Good?

A secured and trustworthy website is always better than an unsecured and non-reliable one, and this makes HTTPS much better than HTTP. Digitalisation has enhanced cybercrime, and tech-savvy hackers are always trying to penetrate networks for site-sensitive data. The best factor of HTTPS protocol is that the data cannot be intercepted since it is secured with encryption security and hence is ideal in this digital world. 

Another pivotal factor is that HTTPS helps in boosting SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) rankings thus showing better site visibility to users. 

User trust can be established and better revenues can be obtained when trust icons like padlock and HTTPS are visible in the URL and address bar respectively.

  • How to Switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS is technically easy. Just follow the below-stated steps and switch your unsecured site to a secured one.

  1. Prepare to Switch:

It’s a huge move so ensure that your site’s incoming traffic is minimum. Since site downtime is essential, schedule the same by involving the core IT team in the switching process. 

  1. Purchase & Install an SSL Certificate:

After the preparation of switching the site to HTTPS is completed, buy an SSL certificate from a reputed Certificate Authority (CA). Choose the ideal SSL certificate for securing your site and install the same on your server. Though the encryption strength is the same, the verification process differs for each type of SSL certificate.

Install and configure the same on your server. The CA can help you in the configuration process. Ensure that the SSL certificate is properly installed for preventing SSL error displays on site.

  1. Enable HTTPS:

The size of your website matters when the migration process starts. Large websites need more time than smaller ones. In case your website is large, distribute the migration process into smaller parts, i.e., migrate the subdomains and later the domains.

Ensure that each site page, links, images, videos, etc. are migrated to HTTPS. Find Mixed Content Warnings and fix them. Resort to Google for its solutions.

Once your site is loaded on HTTPS, your website is secured with encryption.

  1. Setup 301 Redirects from HTTP to HTTPS:

Set up 301 redirects from your CMS platform by automatically redirecting the web traffic to HTTPS. You can also set 301 redirects manually to apprise the search engines about the HTTPS migration process.  

Wrapping Up:

A secured site has multiple advantages. It helps gain user trust, increases market reputation, increases sales and revenue, and helps in creating a loyal customer base. 

It also helps to stand out against your competitors and boosts SEO and site visibility.

So, go for HTTPS and secure your site with encryption to establish your position in the market and also amongst your customers.