I’ve noticed the green padlock in your website address bar, and it now reads HTTPS. Do you mind my asking, what is HTTP vs HTTPS? This is a comment and question I received in an email from one of my readers recently. I suspect that others are wondering about the same things so I thought it would be helpful to address them in today’s post.
All of the acronyms bandied about on the web can easily create massive confusion. My mission today is to demystify some of these terms and abbreviations. So without further adieu, let’s dive into these issues and address them in a non-techie fashion.
What is HTTP?
HTTP is short for hypertext transfer protocol and is the main protocol or set of rules used for communication on the world wide web. The HTTP protocol governs interactions (requests and responses) between your web browser and any destination web page you visit in search of information.
HTTP is a powerful network protocol that allows for resource (files and other data) transfers between a client and server. The client or web browser initiates the transfer request by specifying a URL that identifies a chunk of data stored on a server.
The server responds to the client request and messages bounce back and forth for as long as the connection is maintained. The typical response is to send the requested information, but you may also receive an error message as a response. For example, a 404 error or page not found. I’ll bet you’ve seen that one before.
So, what’s the problem with HTTP?
HTTP is English-based, and communications occur with small bits of text messages. The text and other data being transferred are easily intercepted as they travel between client and server devices. If the files being transferred are cute dog pics, maybe you don’t care. But what if it’s a social security or credit card number?
Ahhh! That’s a problem!
What’s the Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS?
The “s” appended to the end of HTTP stands for secure. Hypertext transfer protocol secure allows for the encryption of data as it travels between clients and servers. That pretty green padlock in the address bar (green for go) should provide peace of mind for customers.
Never enter sensitive data into a website that does not use HTTPS. Your data is at risk! I installed an SSL Certificate on my website several weeks ago which resulted in the green padlock (and HTTPS) appearing in my address bar prompting the question from one of my regular readers.
SSL Certificates often range in price from $80 – $100 but my web hosting provider now supplies free certificates.
The SSL ‘Handshake’
SSL is the abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer and ensures privacy, security and data integrity for both your user’s personal data and your website. The SSL protocol relies on cryptography to secure sensitive data. It includes both public and private keys to enable an encrypted connection and control the ability to decrypt the data.
Every SSL session begins with an exchange of messages between the browser and website server that includes server authentication and agreement regarding encrypting algorithms. This exchange or negotiation is referred to as the SSL handshake.
Here’s the short story. If data is intercepted as it travels between the client and server, the data is in code and cannot be read because the private key is essential for decoding.
3 Major Benefits of HTTPS
HTTPS provides major benefits for both webmasters and website users. The three main benefits are as follows:
(1) Sensitive customer data is encrypted and cannot be intercepted. Protecting our customers should always be our key concern!
(2) Sites that use HTTPS engender trust and make customers feel far more comfortable making purchase transactions.
(3) HTTPS sends a positive signal to Google and may impact a website’s ranking. And, who doesn’t want better rankings?
Are you a blogger who’s still wondering, do I need a SSL Certificate for my website? I sure know how I’ve answered that question. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below on either side of that question!
[bctt tweet=”I need a SSL Certificate for my website!” via=”no”]
Internet security is a topic of huge concern as we venture online with ever increasing regularity to perform banking and purchase transactions. Are you someone who’s been asking what is HTTP vs HTTPS? If so, I hope you found today’s discussion helpful and now understand that the difference is critical!
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