What are the main differences between HTTP and HTTPS

What are the main differences between HTTP and HTTPS, and why is it important for websites to use HTTPS?

9. Jun 2023
What are the main differences between HTTP and HTTPS

Are you familiar with the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? You are not alone if not. Many web developers are aware that they need to use HTTPS to secure their website, but why? This article will explain what HTTP is, how HTTPS differs from HTTP, and how they are currently used to secure websites all over the Internet.



What is Web Security?

Let's first discuss website security before moving on to the differences. When you access a website, your computer sends data to the server running that site. Your IP address, the browser you're using, and the webpages you're visiting on the website might all be included in this data. Since this data is transferred in plain text, it may be seen by anybody keeping an eye on your traffic.

This information might be captured by another user on the network if you're utilising a public Wi-Fi network. For this reason, transferring sensitive data like passwords or credit card details through an insecure connection is very necessary.

What is HTTP?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol is known as HTTP. Web browsers and web servers communicate with one another using this application-level protocol. For the purpose of requesting and transmitting hypertext or other material on the World Wide Web, HTTP provides the structure and guidelines for message exchanges between client devices (such as web browsers) and servers.

A web browser will use the HTTP protocol to submit an HTTP request to a server in order to get a web page or other resource from the server. After that, the server replies with an HTTP response that either contains the requested content or, in the event that it cannot, an error message.

Key features of HTTP include:

Stateless: Because HTTP is a stateless protocol, each request and answer is distinct and does not keep track of past communications. In order to preserve state or keep track of user sessions, extra techniques are needed, such cookies or session management.

Request Methods: GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, HEAD, OPTIONS, and other request verbs are supported by HTTP. These procedures specify the kind of action the client desires to do on the server.

Headers: Headers are extra pieces of information about the request or response that are included in HTTP messages. Information including the content type, caching guidelines, login credentials, and more are provided in headers.

Status Codes: Status codes are included in HTTP replies to describe how the request was handled. Informational (1xx), success (2xx), redirection (3xx), client errors (4xx), and server errors (5xx) are among the status codes.

URL and URI: The location of resources on the web is specified through HTTP using Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) or Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs). To identify web pages, photos, documents, or any other information that can be accessed over HTTP, URLs are frequently employed.

What is HTTPS?

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is known as HTTPS. It is an HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) addition that strengthens the security of data transmission between web browsers and web servers. The confidentiality and integrity of data communicated over the internet are safeguarded by HTTPS using encryption.

The usage of SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) encryption is the main distinction between HTTP and HTTPS. A secure handshake procedure is started by a web browser when it connects to a website that supports HTTPS in order to negotiate and create a secure connection. The data exchanged between the browser and the server is encrypted over this secure connection to guard against hacking or unauthorised access.

Key features of HTTPS includes:

Encryption: To encrypt data in transit, HTTPS employs SSL/TLS encryption. By doing this, it is made sure that no one can intercept, read, or alter the data sent between the browser and the server.

Authentication: In order to confirm the legitimacy of the website or server, HTTPS offers authentication. With less chance of phishing or impersonation attempts, consumers may be sure they are talking with the intended and authentic website.

Data Integrity: HTTPS uses cryptographic methods to guarantee data integrity. It ensures that the data received is unmodified by detecting any unauthorised alterations or tampering of the data during transmission.

Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS): Cryptographic technologies like SSL and TLS serve as the cornerstone for creating secure internet connections. TLS, which replaced SSL, is now frequently utilised in HTTPS installations.

HTTPS URL: Similar to HTTP URLs, HTTPS URLs include an extra "s" after "http" (for example, https://www.example.com). This signifies that a secure HTTPS connection is being used to serve the website or web page.

The use of HTTPS has grown more and more crucial for websites, particularly those that handle sensitive data like passwords, personal information, or financial transactions. It contributes to user privacy protection, safe online communications, and user and website confidence.

Modern web browsers frequently show a padlock icon or write "Secure" in the address bar to denote the use of HTTPS by a website. Users may trust that their contact with the website is safe because to this visual cue.

Differences between HTTP and HTTPS

Here are the key differences between HTTP and HTTPS:

Security: The primary difference is the level of security provided. The data transferred between the browser and server is susceptible to eavesdropping and modification since HTTP does not offer any encryption. As opposed to HTTP, HTTPS encrypts the communication channel using SSL/TLS to make sure that the data is safe and shielded from unauthorised access.

Protocol: Hypertext Transfer Protocol and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure are both abbreviations for the same protocol. Through SSL/TLS encryption, HTTPS, an extension of HTTP, offers an extra degree of protection.

Port: While HTTPS normally utilises port 443, HTTP uses port 80 for communication. This difference enables web servers to recognise requests and treat them differently depending on the protocol being utilised.

URL Scheme: When referring to a URL, HTTP URLs begin with "http://" (for example, "http://www.example.com") whereas HTTPS URLs begin with "https://" (for instance, "https://www.example.com"). The letter "s" after the domain name indicates that the website is delivered through a secure connection.

Certificate: An SSL/TLS certificate is required for a website to create an HTTPS connection. A reputable certificate authority (CA) has granted this digital certificate, which confirms the legitimacy of the website. No certificate is necessary for HTTP.

Authentication and Trust: In order to confirm the authenticity of the website or server, HTTPS offers authentication. Users may communicate with the real website and not a fake one with more confidence thanks to this. Since HTTP lacks this degree of authentication, it is vulnerable to impersonation and spoofing attacks.

SEO and Ranking: Because HTTPS offers a safe and secure surfing experience, search engines frequently give priority to websites employing it in their search results. Comparatively to non-secure HTTP sites, this can improve a website's search engine ranks.

Compared to the insecure HTTP protocol, HTTPS enables encryption, data integrity, authentication, and greater security. It guarantees private and secure communication between web browsers and servers, safeguarding sensitive data and fostering user confidence.

What do they do for website security?

Because it employs encryption for securing data as it is transferred between clients and servers, HTTPS is more secure than HTTP. Any information you communicate, such as passwords or credit card data, will be challenging for anybody to intercept if an organisation activates HTTPS.

Since HTTP does not employ encryption, any data you send over the network may be intercepted by another user. This is why delivering sensitive information via a secure connection is crucial.

SSL Certificates

A website has to have a current SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate in order to activate HTTPS. When sending data between your machine and the server, this certificate is used to encrypt the data. A public key and a private key are both present in an SSL certificate. Information is encrypted using the public key and decrypted using the private key.

Certificate Authorities (CAs) are the entities that provide SSL certificates. A CA is a company that authenticates a website's identity before awarding it a certificate. Your browser determines whether a website's SSL Certificate is valid when you visit it. If it is, a green padlock will appear in the address bar. You will get a warning notice if it is not.

TLS Certificates

Information transferred over the Internet is encrypted using the security protocol known as Transport Layer Security (TLS). The security protocol TLS is an upgraded version of SSL, which has been phased out. Despite the fact that the acronyms are frequently used interchangeably, TLS employs stronger encryption techniques and offers better security than SSL.

Types of SSL/TLS Certificates

There are three main types of SSL/TLS Certificates

1. Domain Validated (DV) Certificates: The simplest and most fundamental kind of SSL/TLS certificates are called DV certificates. They authenticate the domain's owner and encrypt the communication between the user's browser and the website. Although sometimes needing automated validation techniques, such as email verification, DV certificates are extremely simple and quick to get.

2. Organization Validated (OV) Certificates: Compared to DV certificates, OV certificates offer a greater level of validation. OV certificates certify the company operating the website in addition to confirming domain ownership. The Certificate Authority (CA) must manually verify this by looking up information on the organisation, including its legal status and physical address. Information about the verified organisation is shown in the certificate details for OV certificates.

3. Extended Validation (EV) Certificates: The greatest level of validation and the most obvious trust indications are offered by EV certificates. EV certificates undergo a thorough validation procedure that involves checking the ownership of the domain, organisation information, legal status, and other factors. Most browsers show a green address bar on websites with EV certificates, signalling to consumers the greatest degree of security and confidence.

Why SSL/TLS certificates are important?

Because they serve to keep your information secure while it is being delivered over the Internet, SSL/TLS certificates are crucial. Your data is protected using a method referred to as secure encryption. Certificate Authorities (CAs) are responsible for issuing SSL/TLS certificates. Your browser determines the validity of the SSL/TLScCertificate when you visit a website. If it is, a green padlock will appear in the address bar. It is crucial to only submit critical information on websites with active SSL/TLS certificates. Your information will be protected in this way from hackers and identity thieves.

All websites are not required to use SSL/TLS certificates, but those that gather or transport sensitive data are advised to do so. This includes social networking platforms, e-commerce websites, and other websites that need a login. If you're not sure if your website requires an SSL/TLS certificate, ask your web hosting company or an IT expert for advice.

How HTTPS enables web encryption

Information transferred between a web server and a web browser is encrypted during the web encryption process. This method is used by SSL/TLS certificates to safeguard sensitive data, including passwords, credit card numbers, and personal information.

Secure encryption is a technique used by SSL/TLS Certificates to safeguard data while it is transmitted over the Internet. Secure encryption is a type of data security that encrypts and decrypts data using mathematical techniques.

Credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information are all protected by secure encryption. When this data is encrypted, it becomes a code that can only be decoded by the designated receiver. Because of this, it is challenging for someone to intercept and read the information.

Final Thought

Understanding the difference between HTTP and HTTPS is advantageous for your organisation or business as well as for protecting the information of your consumers and clients. User page requests and the pages the Web server returns are encrypted and decrypted using HTTPS. The confidentiality of data exchanged between the browser and the website is safeguarded as well as defence against man-in-the-middle attacks. 

After reading this article, perhaps you have a better grasp of HTTP vs. HTTPS and are well on your way to establishing a secure connection.


What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTPS is a secure variant of HTTP, which is the main difference between HTTP and HTTPS. Through encryption, HTTPS provides an additional layer of security to ensure that information exchanged between a web browser and a web server is private and secure against unauthorised access.

How does HTTPS provide security that HTTP doesn't?

SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security) encryption is used in HTTPS to ensure security. By ensuring data transmission is encrypted between the browser and the server, attackers will find it more challenging to intercept and decode the data.

How can I tell if a website is using HTTP or HTTPS?

You may look up the website's URL. "http://" is the first character in HTTP URLs, such as http://www.example.com, whereas "https://" is the first character in HTTPS URLs, such as https://www.example.com. In addition, HTTPS websites are frequently identified by a padlock icon or the word "Secure" in the address bar by contemporary web browsers.

Why should I switch from HTTP to HTTPS?

Switching from HTTP to HTTPS makes sense for a number of reasons. Data encryption is provided through HTTPS, preventing unauthorised access to sensitive data. By presenting security indications, it improves credibility and confidence among users. Additionally, search engines favour HTTPS, which may have a favourable effect on how websites rank in search results.

Do I need an SSL/TLS certificate to use HTTPS?

Yes, to activate HTTPS, an SSL/TLS certificate is necessary. The certificate contains a public key that the browser needs to create a secure connection with the server and is issued by a reputable Certificate Authority (CA).

Are there any performance differences between HTTP and HTTPS?

Due to the processing burden added by HTTPS's encryption and decryption procedures, performance may be marginally impacted. The performance impact has been greatly decreased by hardware improvements and optimisations, making it insignificant for the majority of websites.

Is HTTPS only important for websites that handle sensitive information?

Although HTTPS is essential for websites handling private data like passwords or financial information, it is also becoming more and more critical for all websites. Even for non-sensitive websites, HTTPS secures the safety and integrity of user data, fosters visitor confidence, and defends against many forms of cyberattacks.

Can I switch from HTTP to HTTPS without affecting my website's SEO?

Yes, You can change from HTTP to HTTPS without harming your website's SEO. Your search engine rankings can be maintained or enhanced with the proper deployment and configuration of HTTPS, suitable redirects, and updates to sitemaps and internal links.

What is an SSL/TLS certificate?

A digital certificate called an SSL/TLS certificate allows a web server and a web browser to communicate securely. By offering encryption and authentication, it makes sure that information sent between the server and the browser is safe and reliable.

Why do I need an SSL/TLS certificate for my website?

SSL/TLS certificates are necessary for the security of websites. They guard against hostile actors intercepting sensitive data, including login credentials, personal information, and financial activities. By presenting trust indicators, such as the padlock icon or a green address bar, which indicate a secure connection, SSL/TLS certificates also build consumers' confidence.

How does an SSL/TLS certificate work?

A secure connection is established between the server and the user's browser when they access a website that has an SSL/TLS certificate. The SSL/TLS certificate, which the server displays, includes a public key. The browser authenticates the certificate and creates an encrypted connection using the public key. Data transmission between the browser and the server is kept private and safe thanks to this encryption.

How do I obtain an SSL/TLS certificate for my website?

You can use a certificate authority (CA) or a dependable third-party source to get an SSL/TLS certificate. Typically, the procedure entails producing a certificate signing request (CSR) from your server, sending it to the CA, performing the necessary validation steps, and obtaining the issued certificate.

Can I get a free SSL/TLS certificate?

Yes, trustworthy Certificate Authorities and suppliers do supply free SSL/TLS certificates. Let's Encrypt and Cloudflare's Universal SSL are two popular choices. These certificates are legitimate and commonly used, however they frequently have certain restrictions compared to bought certificates, such as shorter validity periods or fewer functionality.

Do SSL/TLS certificates affect website performance?

Website speed may be marginally impacted by the computational burden added by SSL/TLS encryption. Modern hardware and optimisations, however, have greatly diminished this effect. Additionally, any minimal performance penalty is typically outweighed by the performance advantages of maintaining a secure connection and earning user confidence.

Do SSL/TLS certificates expire?

Yes, SSL/TLS certificates have an expiration date. They often have a set validity term, which is typically between one and three years. To continue maintaining secure connection after the certificate expires, it must be reissued.

Can I transfer an SSL/TLS certificate to a different server or domain?

Most SSL/TLS certificates are linked to certain servers or domains. You might need to renew or get a new certificate if you need to utilise the same certificate on a different server or domain. Depending on the certificate authority or supplier, the procedure differs.


Note - We can not guarantee that the information on this page is 100% correct.


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