If you’re thinking about switching to the HTTPS protocol but aren’t exactly sure how it will affect your website, this article will guide you through the process.
We will explain the difference between HTTP and HTTPS in terms of security, performance, and search engine optimization (SEO) benefits.
Also, we’ll explore how the HTTPS vs HTTP protocols transport data via the internet and the significant role of SSL certificates.
Differences Between HTTP vs HTTPS
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is the protocol that enables communication between different systems, transferring information and data over a network.
On the other hand, HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. Although it functions similarly to HTTP, HTTPS works to protect communication between web servers and browsers when transporting data.
HTTPS secures connections with a digital security protocol that uses cryptographic keys to encrypt and validate data. The most common way for websites to use HTTPS and have a secure domain is by obtaining a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate.
Keep in mind that although TLS is widely becoming the standard for HTTPS, most SSL certificates support both SSL/TLS protocols.
Aside from that, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each protocol to help you decide whether to make the switch.
How HTTP Works
In practice, HTTP is an application layer protocol that web browsers and web servers use to communicate via the internet.
When a web user wants to load or interact with a web page, their web browser sends an HTTP request to the origin server that hosts the website’s files. These requests are essentially lines of text that are sent via the internet.
A connection is then established between the browser and server, after which the server processes the request and sends back an HTTP response. This makes web pages accessible to site visitors.
HTTP vs HTTPS: Which One Is Better
It all depends on the type of site you run and the data you manage. For example, a simple portfolio website and an eCommerce site with membership features and digital payment systems have different security requirements.
However, it doesn’t matter whether your site handles sensitive information – HTTPS is becoming the standard for all websites. Not only that, there are numerous benefits to having an SSL certificate enabled on your site.
Consider the following factors when deciding between HTTP vs HTTPS.
Having strong security measures and providing a secure browsing experience on your website is crucial. A GlobalSign survey found that 77% of visitors have concerns about unauthorized parties misusing or intercepting user data.
In regards to HTTP vs HTTPS, the latter outperforms in terms of security.
A standard HTTP protocol does not encrypt connections. That means the lines of text in an HTTP request or response are visible to anyone monitoring the connection, including cybercriminals.
Using a standard HTTP generally poses minimal issues if the text only contains general information, such as to load a public web page.
However, if it contains sensitive data like usernames, passwords, or credit card details, using unencrypted HTTP can pose serious security risks. Since this information is visible to anyone, data breaches, hacks, and identity theft become serious concerns.
Users can see if they are browsing HTTP sites by checking two elements. First, the icon before a website’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator) may show a ! symbol or say “Not secure.”
The warning may also advise users not to enter sensitive or confidential information on the website. Second, the site’s URL will start with http://.
HTTPS = HTTP + SSL
To protect potentially sensitive information from being leaked, websites use SSL certificates to create a secure connection between web servers and browsers, protecting the transmission of HTTP requests and responses.
The use of an SSL certificate is the key difference between HTTPS and HTTP.
HTTPS encrypts the transport of data so it’s not visible to hackers or others monitoring the connection. This ensures data integrity and prevents information from being modified, corrupted, or stolen during transmission.
SSL/TLS protocols also authenticate users to secure information and ensure it won’t be revealed to unauthorized users.
Users can easily check if a website uses SSL/TLS. First, a padlock icon should be visible on the left-hand side of a website’s URL, signifying that the connection is secure. Second, the website’s URL will start with https://.
Switching From HTTP to HTTPS: Risks and Best Practices
It’s not uncommon that websites encounter a few issues and SEO concerns after switching to HTTPS. For instance, some sites potentially experience an initial drop in traffic due to a lower ranking in the SERPs.
Here are a few common risks that may occur and how to avoid them.
When making a choice between HTTP vs HTTPS, we recommend switching to HTTPS to increase the site’s security and credibility.
While HTTP is a protocol that enables data transmission via the world wide web, HTTPS is essentially a more secure version. The most important difference between the two is that HTTPS uses SSL/TLS to encrypt connections between web browsers and servers.
Using HTTPS on your site can also lead to other advantages, such as SEO benefits and better site performance.
Before switching to HTTPS, remember that there may be initial drawbacks and potential risks like errors or decreased traffic. To avoid them, make sure to follow the best practices we outlined above, for example, buy an SSL certificate that’s best suited to your website type.
If you have any further questions about the differences between HTTPS vs HTTP, feel free to drop them in the comments section below.