HTTP v/s HTTPS. A comprehensive analysis.

With the increase in the use of technology, the risks have also increased. The banking system is now entirely online, so there is a high risk of hackers stealing confidential data from the websites. To address such issues, websites have recently made their websites secure by shifting from HTTP to HTTPS. The debate of HTTP v/s HTTPS has always been the hot topic of the tech industry.

In 2014, Google advised that all sites should change from HTTP to HTTPS. At first, only the e-commerce sites switched to HTTPS, but later, when Google announced that it would rank the HTTPS sites a little higher than the HTTP ones, many other sites also transferred to HTTPS to get that slight edge over its competitors.

To know the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, you must first know what HTTP and HTTPS actually are.

So what is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Whenever a user views a webpage, a standard protocol is used to transfer data from a web server to his/her browser. HTTP was the protocol that earlier websites followed.

In HTTP, “HyperText” means that the files or documents contain various other links too that can be accessed by a single tap on the screen, a mouse click or by pressing a key on the keyboard. “Transfer” means that multimedia files like photos, videos, audios, text, and any other type of graphics will be transferred to www. “Protocol” means that there is a standard set of rules in loading something.

What is HTTPS?

The problem with HTTP was that it was not safe. There were chances of stealth of data during the transfer from the webserver to the browser. To address this issue, SSL (which stands for secure socket layer) was added to HTTP to make sure that the transfer of data is safer and more secure. Having said that, this does not mean that hacking is impossible if a website has HTTPS. There is still a possibility of hacking or phishing of emails but it just gives an additional layer of security.

Working of HTTPS:

HTTPS is basically HTTP with an additional SSL certificate. This SSL allows it to convert all the data into codes. Thus, even if a hacker manages to steal the data, he/she will be unable to read it.

Through HTTPS, the website is also secured by TLS (Transport layer security). Hence, the person becomes sure that if a website is using HTTPS, it is safer and more secure.

A simple example to explain the concept:

A person A wants to buy a pair of shoes from a website He enters his credit card information and his transaction password on the website. A hacker sitting somewhere else steals this data as there is no encryption on the passwords and robs the money from A’s bank account. Person A is unhappy, the website is also unhappy. However, there is another website HTTPS:// and person A buys a pair of shoes from there. This time when he enters the information it is encrypted and even if the hacker tries, he/she cannot see the passwords. This makes it impossible for him/her to steal money from A’s account and A and the website, both do great business. Thus, both person A and the website are happy.

How is HTTPS helpful for a viewer and the website?

If there is an e-commerce website that demands private information like a credit card number, a viewer will be reluctant to provide it if is not secure. He/she would like to ensure that the confidential information provided is safe and no third-person can view it.

This allows the establishment of trust between the buyer and the seller and in turn, the business is promoted.

GlobalSign conducted research after which it was concluded that more than 80 percent of people do not make a purchase if the website does not have HTTP.

How can you know if the website has HTTP or HTTPS in one glance?

  • If the lock in the left of the URL is closed the website is HTTPS. If the lock is open, it has HTTP.
  • Before any URL, if there is HTTPS, for example, then the website is HTTPS. Before any URL, if there is HTTP for example, then the website is HTTP.

How to change your website from HTTP to HTTPS?

  1. Choose the type of SSL Certificate that you require from your hosting company.
  2. Install and configure the SSL certificate onto the Hosting Account of the site.
  3. To remain on a safer side, perform a complete back up of the website.
  4. Thoroughly check the website and convert all the hard internal links from HTTP to HTTPS. Ensure that you have also updated the sitemap.
  5. Check the code libraries (Optional).
  6. Update any of the external links under your control.
  7. Create a 301 redirect. This is highly necessary if you have backlinks from many other sites.
  8. Synchronize your Content Delivery Network(CDN) with your SSL.
  9. Update any other transactional emails and tools.
  10. Uprate Google analytics.

Other differences between HTTP and HTTPS:

  • HTTP uses Port 80 as its default port while HTTPS uses port 443 as its default port.
  • HTTP is suitable for websites that share information, for example, educational sites, entertainment, blogs, and articles. HTTPS is necessary for websites that require some sort of personal information, like financial details.
  • HTTP is basically for the exchange of simple information over the internet. HTTPS is for the exchange of confidential information.
  • HTTP is faster than HTTPS because it is much simpler. HTTPS takes time to set a secure connection.
  • HTTPS increases the effectiveness of Google Analytics by preserving referral data.
  • HTTPS makes you eligible to make AMP pages. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a recently introduced way by google to make the loading of pages on smartphones faster.
  • HTTPS preserves referrer data which gives the boon of Search Engine Optimization. On the other hand, on HTTP, referrer sources also appear like direct traffic.
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