More and more webmasters are upgrading their sites to Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Nearly one-third of the internet’s top 1 million websites use this online communications protocol. Regardless of your which type of website or websites you operate, you should consider using HTTPS. It offers several key advantages over its HTTP counterpart.
HTTPS is the secure version of the application protocol that governs the way in which data is transmitted and received over the internet. It uses encryption to create a more secure connection, thus protecting users’ data from prying eyes.
To see if a website uses HTTPS, look at the address bar in your web browser. If it’s secure, it will have the HTTPS prefix. If it’s not secure, it will have the standard HTTP prefix.
HTTPS and HTTP both serve the same fundamental purpose of governing the transmission of online data. The difference between the two is that the former encrypts data while the latter does not. When visiting a website with HTTP, all data sent and received is vulnerable to interception by third parties. A hacker, for instance, may access the connection between the website and a visitor, after which he or she can intercept data that’s transmitted or received between the two parties, including credit card numbers, personal contact information and account logins.
HTTPS protects against privacy and cyber threats such as this by encrypting all data that the website receives and transmits. When a visitor completes a form on the website, for example, the data he or she entered is scrambled so that it can’t be deciphered by third parties. Only the website can decipher this data because it’s the only party with the corresponding encryption key.
When comparing HTTPS vs HTTP, it’s important to note that HTTPS is more difficult and time-consuming to set up. Website use HTTP by default, so you don’t have to worry about manually configuring your server. To use HTTPS, however, you must purchase an SSL certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA) and install it on your server.
Although it’s more difficult to set up than HTTP, upgrading your site to HTTPS is well worth the effort. In 2014, Google confirmed that it uses HTTPS as part of its ranking algorithm. Although it’s a lightweight signal, adopting HTTPS can increase your site’s chances of ranking high in the search results.
HTTPS can also make your site more trustworthy to visitors. Upon seeing the HTTPS prefix in their web browser, visitors will feel more confident using your site knowing that their data is protected.
For some websites, HTTPS is a requirement. E-commerce websites that process customer payments directly on their site, for instance, are required by payment gateways to use this protocol. Without HTTPS, shoppers’ payment information is susceptible to interception.
Hopefully, you now answer the question: “What is HTTPS?” The defining characteristic of this protocol is that it uses encryption to create a secure connection with websites.