HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

What are HTTP and HTTPS?

When HTTP (hyper-text transfer protocol) is encrypted, it turns into HTTPS (hyper-text transfer protocol secure). In short, all the HTTP requests are encrypted with the help of an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate and turn to HTTPS. 

Hence, HTTPS is a more secure version of HTTP. This is because websites starting with HTTP in the URL are unsecured sites, whereas sites starting with HTTPS in the URL show a secured and encrypted connection.

What Is HTTP?

The HTTP protocol is used to transfer hypertext and data over the network. The majority of this information, which is transferred includes web content, API calls, etc.

When your address bar starts with HTTP, it informs the browser to connect over HTTP (over port 80) for sending and receiving data packets over the web. 

The only drawback in using HTTP for data transfer is that the data remains in plain text during the transfer process and can easily be read and misused by intruders.

What is an HTTP Request? What is an HTTP Response?

HTTP Request:

A browser makes an HTTP request to the host, which is located on the server. The main motto of the request is to assess resources found on the server.

This request is made by using URL components. The request also includes the data required for accessing the resources.

Elements of an HTTP Request:

  • Request line
  • HTTP headers
  • A message body (if any)HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

HTTP Response:

An HTTP response is the return of the HTTP request and is made by a server to a client. The main motto of the HTTP response is to supply the client with its requested resources or inform them that the request action is carried out or notify them that an error has occurred in the response process. 

Elements of an HTTP Response:

  • Status line
  • HTTP headers
  • Message Body (if any)HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

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What is HTTPS?

HTTPS has an additional “S,” which portrays security. All the HTTP requests are encrypted via SSL/TLS certificates by HTTPS to gain a secured connection. 

HTTP + Cryptographic Protocols (SSL) = HTTPS

The main advantage of using HTTPS to transfer data is that the data gets converted into ciphertext during the transfer process and hence looks gibberish, thus keeping intruders away.

Example: While shopping on Amazon, when a user clicks the “Checkout” option, the URL instantly changes to HTTPS. This is a sign of a secured payment transaction.

When your address bar starts with HTTPS, it informs the browser to connect over HTTPS (port 443) for sending and receiving data packets over the web. This port encrypts the information by using TLS (Transport Layer Security)/SSL. The question here is which type of SSL certificate is suitable for your website either you run an ecommerce, payment gateway or forum. The answer is each site requirement differs as per number of domains and subdomains. But keep in mind that there are many cheap SSL certificates available in the market for a lesser budget business website. You as a site owner can choose best SSL as per website’s preference. 

In HTTPS, how does TLS/SSL encrypt HTTP requests and responses?

TLS/SSL certificates are digital certificates that encrypt HTTP requests with the help of 2 keys.

  • The public key
  • The private key

The public key, as the name defines, is available to all who wish to encrypt the information. The private (secret) key is available only with the intended recipient, who can decrypt the data. This type of encryption is called asymmetric encryption. HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

Another encryption technique used by SSL/TLS certificates is symmetric encryption, where a browser uses both these keys to generate a common key called the session key. 

This session key is used to encrypt and decrypt all future communications between the client and the server. This randomly created key ensures secure communication between two computers since all the HTTP requests and responses are encrypted with these keys. 

Hence, an intruder viewing communications can see a gibberish language instead of a plain, readable text.HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

HTTP vs HTTPS Security:HTTP vs. HTTPS Security: What’s the Difference Between These Protocols?

Parameter HTTP HTTPS
Acronym HTTP stands for Hyper-text Transfer Protocol. HTTPS stands for Hyper-text Transfer Protocol Secure.
Protocol Security It is a non-secure protocol since the data can easily be accessible to hackers. It is a secured protocol since the data becomes encrypted, and hence intruder’s access becomes difficult.
Port The default port for HTTP sites is Port 80. The default port for HTTPS sites is Port 443.
URL begins with For HTTP sites, the URL begins with HTTP:// For HTTPS sites, the URL begins with HTTPS://
Ideal for  HTTP sites are ideal for internal or intranet websites, where sensitive information is not shared. HTTPS sites are ideal for e-commerce websites, banking institutions, and healthcare industries where sensitive data is shared daily.
Encryption of Data In HTTP sites, the data remains unscrambled and in plain text format. This allows hackers easy access to data for misusing the same. In HTTPS sites, the data gets scrambled due to encryption and converted into ciphertext. This becomes tough for hackers to access and misuse the data.
Protocol Layer This protocol operates at the highest layer of the TCP/IP model, i.e., the application layer. This security protocol operates at a lower sub-layer of the HTTP layer (transport layer) and uses encrypted SSL/TLS connections.
SSL Installation HTTP sites don’t have an SSL certificate installed. HTTPS sites have SSL certificates installed.
Encryption Security Since an SSL certificate is not installed on the website, encryption of data is not possible. Since an SSL certificate is installed on the website, encryption of data is possible.
SEO Ranking The HTTP protocol doesn’t improve SEO ranks. HTTPS protocol improves SEO ranks.
Speed HTTP protocol is a simple process and hence these sites are faster in loading. Expect improved site loading speeds with HTTP/2.
Vulnerability HTTP sites are vulnerable to hackers. HTTPS sites are more secured and hence invulnerable to hackers.
Domain Verification HTTP sites don’t need any domain verification. HTTPS sites need domain verification and, in some cases, organization and extended verification too.

 

  • HTTPS or HTTP: Which Is Better?

To know which one is better than the other:

  • Check as to what is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
  • The pros and cons of HTTP and HTTPS

This will help you in judging the best one against the other. 

Limitations of HTTP:

  • Anyone can view the data, and hence privacy is not maintained.
  • Anyone can modify the content or data due to lack of encryption security, and hence data integrity cannot be maintained. 
  • Since multiple connections are needed to transmit a webpage, administrative costs increase.
  • Huge system resources are used by HTTP, which causes more consumption of power.

But when it comes to security, HTTPS indeed has the upper hand against HTTP. 

Who doesn’t want secured sites? Who doesn’t want authentic sites and user’s trust?

HTTPS is essential when sensitive information is stored or transferred, making it a better choice than HTTP. 

Being PCI (payment card industry) compliant and increasing user trust, HTTPS sites have better conversions and sales than HTTP sites. In addition, other ample benefits of HTTPS, as stated above, make it a better choice as compared to HTTP.

Advantages of HTTPS:

  • HTTPS helps in improving SEO ranks, thus making website position visible on the top pages of Google.
  • HTTPS is essential for creating AMP pages for the website.
  • HTTPS helps in implementing web push notification services.
  • It also helps create progressive web pages (PWA), making the website suitable for all devices.
  • Implementation of GetUserMedia is possible, wherein users can use a camera and microphone on the website.
  • It provides a secure payment gateway for e-commerce industries since it encrypts all data.
  • The Certificate Authority (CA) verifies the authenticity of the domain name and the website. It also verifies owner identity before issuance of SSL certificate. 

How to Get HTTPS for Your Website?

If you want to make your website secure with HTTPS then you need to buy ssl certificate and install it on your website. There are so many SSL certificates available in market you need to choose right ssl cert as per your need.

Types of SSL Certificates: 

  • Domain Validation SSL (verifies the domain name)
  • Organization Validation SSL (verifies the domain name and organization authenticity)
  • Extended Validation SSL (verifies the domain name, organization authenticity, and owner identity thoroughly)  
  • Single Domain SSL certificate secures the root domain
  • Multi-Domain SSL certificate secures all domains and sub-domains
  • Wildcard SSL certificate secures the root domain and sub-domains

Installing any of the above types of SSL certificates will help you get HTTPS on your website.

Just like SSL certificates come in varied types, so do SSL certificate providers. Ample SSL certificate providers offer these web security certificates of different brands (Comodo, GeoTrust, RapidSSL, etc.) at enticing rates. 

Final Words:

In this article, I have covered all the aspects of HTTP and HTTPS and how you can turn your website into HTTPS to make it more secure and safer from hackers. 

Google promises a secured web environment to its users and hence urges website owners to shift to HTTPS. The transition from HTTP to HTTPS is the main motto of Google, and therefore it is the sole reason for Google to announce HTTPS as a ranking factor in SEO.

So, if you already have an HTTP site, convert it to HTTPS by installing an SSL certificate. But, if you are planning to launch a new website, ensure that you already have secured it by buying an SSL certificate from ClickSSL. 

Ensure to configure your SSL certificate properly to avoid security lapses. This will strengthen your website security and help your website get a favourable position in SEO too.

Jitender Singh

Jitender Singh, the owner of this site, is a technical expert, SEO expert, YouTubber and a experienced blogger by profession. He basically belongs to a middle class family in Faridabad.

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