The Difference Between HTTP vs HTTPS

In 2014, when Google announced that it would provide a minor boost in the search rankings of HTTPS encrypted websites, the HTTP vs HTTPS debate took off. 

The debate continues to this day and revolves around one question “Is moving your website to HTTPS feasible for small business websites or not?” 

It seems like it does because Google’s latest page experience update has ignited the debate even further. 

Google now wants every website (big or small) to get HTTPS encrypted to qualify for page experience parameters, which means that websites will not rank unless they are HTTPS encrypted.  

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is also a set of rules that governs the communication between a server and a client but in a secure way. 

The “S” in HTTPS represents security which ensures an extra layer of protection gets added to the HTTP with the help of TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to secure the communication. 

What is HTTP?

HTTP or Hypertext Transfer Protocol is a set of rules that govern the hypertext file transfer over the world wide web. 

It is an application layer protocol used to establish and improve the communication between a server and a client. 

It works as a request-response protocol between the two communicating entities. 

Is HTTP an Unsecured Way to Communicate Data?

Yes, security issues have always kept HTTP on the back foot. The issue with HTTP is that it transfers data in an unencrypted form. 

HTTP data transfer is done in plain text, which is why any man-in-the-middle can add malicious codes, steal data, inject codes, and eavesdrop. 

Even worse, HTTP does not comply with PCI/DSS payment guidelines, which means that details of payment transactions happening on an HTTP website are vulnerable to deception and theft, leading to bank fraud. 

What does an HTTP website look like?

Well, the truth be told. It does not look charming at all. Search engines like Google issue warning signs to visitors and mark it “Not Secure” ahead of its URL. 

Customers are often discouraged from visiting HTTP websites by the search engine themselves. Even if a customer manages to sneak in, the warning signs are enough to scare him/her away. 

Put yourself in a customer’s boots and ask yourself, would you like to enter your address, phone number, credit/debit card, and bank details on a website that is already marked unsecured?

No, right? So. No, an HTTP website does not look good on cards at all. 

HTTP vs HTTPS Security

HTTP is an unsecured way of transferring data, while HTTPS is a secure way of communication between a web server and a client. 

Search engines like Mozilla and Google are forcing you to move to HTTPS encryption because of the security it provides. 

HTTPS is an extended and advanced version of HTTP. 

Where HTTP transfer is done in plain text form, HTTPS uses public, private, and session keys to encrypt their communication so that no man-in-the-middle can see and intercept it. 

To understand the concepts in detail, let us delve into them

How does it work?.

  • To establish a connection, the web browser sends a request to the webserver for its identification.
  • The web browser receives a copy of the web server’s SSL certificate. In other words, the web servers share the copy of its public key, and the web browser creates a session key that gets encrypted using the public key shared by the webserver.
  • The web browser, after analyzing its authenticity, sends a message to the web-server. Here the web browser shares the session key with the webserver.
  • After receiving the web server, it digitally signs an acknowledgment and sends it to the web browser. Here the web server receives the session key, acknowledges it, and decrypts it.
  • After the SSL encrypted session starts, the data is shared between them freely. Here the asymmetric encryption is replaced by symmetric encryption, and the sessions stay active.

Difference between HTTP vs HTTPS

HTTP vs HTTPS Security is one of the heated debates on the internet. Let us figure out which one is better by understanding these 5 points mentioned below:

  • HTTPS provides an additional layer of security

HTTPS comes with SSL encryption, where the Secure Socket Layer encrypts the data transfer between a client and a server. 

But, in HTTP, the data is transferred in a plain text format where any hacker can easily intercept and steal it. 

  • HTTPS Encryption helps avoid “Not Secure” Signs

If your website is HTTPS encrypted, your website will get marked as “Secure” by search engines. 

But, in the case of HTTP, search engines will display a “Not Secure” sign both ahead of the URL and on the interface as well. 

HTTP only operates on the application layer, whereas HTTPS operates on the transport layer or secure socket layer. 

HTTPS uses Public Key Infrastructure technology which stores, creates, and distributes digital certificates that verify the authenticity of the user and the public key. 

Moreover, HTTP operates on port 80, whereas HTTPS operates on Port 443.  

  • HTTPS helps build trust

Influence, attention, and trust are three of the most important pillars to do any business. 

You may successfully influence visitors to visit their website, grab their attention, but if you have an HTTP website that shows a “Not Secure” warning upon their visit, there is no way you can convert them because the trust factor is lost. 

An HTTPS website helps maintain your market reputation among customers by displaying your identity through a grey padlock, whereas an HTTP website will scare them away. 

Thus, HTTPS helps build trust and reputation. 

  • HTTPS increases your Search Rankings while HTTP dips them

Search engines like Google back HTTPS websites, but they discourage people from visiting HTTP websites by displaying “Not Secure” signs. 

When prospects visit an HTTP website, they bounce back after seeing the warning signal, which automatically spikes the bounce rate and dips the website rankings. 

Moreover, the Page Experience update will also play a crucial role in dipping the HTTP website rankings. 

But, on an HTTPS website, customers feel safe and freely share their sensitive information like bank and Debit/Credit Card details thus, increasing their rankings. 

  • HTTPS helps in complying with PCI/DSS guidelines

The Payment Card Industry guidelines must be followed by all websites that always accept payments. 

A website that follows PCI/DSS guidelines is considered secure and safe to transact. Such websites can collect sensitive information like credit/debit card details. 

One of the major factors that are necessary for compliance with these guidelines is the use of HTTPS. 

According to the PCI, websites that accept sensitive details and store them must be HTTPS encrypted; otherwise, they will face heavy penalties from credit card companies. 

However, an HTTP website does not qualify for receiving online payments and storing sensitive information according to PCI guidelines. 

Sebastine Conclusion: Differentiation between HTTP and HTTPS

HTTP: No Data Encryption Implemented

Every URL link that begins with HTTP uses a basic type of “hypertext transfer protocol”. Created by Tim Berners-Lee back in the early 1990s, when the Internet was still in its infancy, this network protocol standard is what allows web browsers and servers to communicate through the exchange of data.

HTTP is also called “a stateless system”, which means that it enables connection on demand. You click on a link, requesting a connection, and your web browser sends this request to the server, which response by opening the page. The quicker the connection is, the faster the data is presented to you.

As an “application layer protocol”, HTTP remains focused on presenting the information but cares less about the way this information travels from one place to another. Unfortunately, this means that HTTP can be intercepted and potentially altered, making both the information and the information receiver (that’s you) vulnerable.

HTTPS: Encrypted Connections

HTTPS is not the opposite of HTTP, but its younger cousin. The two are essentially the same, in that both of them refer to the same “hypertext transfer protocol” that enables requested web data to be presented on your screen. But, HTTPS is still slightly different, more advanced, and much more secure.

Simply put, HTTPS protocol is an extension of HTTP. That “S” in the abbreviation comes from the word Secure and it is powered by Transport Layer Security (TLS) [the successor to Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)], the standard security technology that establishes an encrypted connection between a web server and a browser.

Without HTTPS, any data you enter into the site (such as your username/password, credit card or bank details, any other form submission data, etc.) will be sent plaintext and therefore susceptible to interception or eavesdropping. For this reason, you should always check that a site is using HTTPS before you enter any information.

In addition to encrypting the data transmitted between the server and your browser, TLS also authenticates the server you are connecting to and protects that transmitted data from tampering.

It helps me to think about it like this – HTTP in HTTPS is the equivalent of a destination, while SSL is the equivalent of a journey. The first is responsible for getting the data to your screen, and the second manages the way it gets there. With joint forces, they move data in a safe fashion.  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *