By using the HTTPS on your site, instead of HTTP, you take a big step to secure the data of the site. Without installing the SSL certificate, the site is an easy target for Data Theft.
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is of SSL certificate. A website that loads on HTTPS uses an SSL certificate to send and receive the information in an encrypted state. While on HTTP, the data is sent in text format, which is easy to read by anyone. HTTPS also improves the SEO of the site.
With the Google update where Google said that it will give a push to the ranking of the sites that use HTTPS, the need for using HTTPS has become more prominent.
There are many questions and doubts around HTTP and HTTPS.
Like how HTTPS is secure, does it affect the site in anyway, or Why HTTP and HTTPS are different?
HTTP vs HTTPS?
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that HTTPS encrypts the data it transmits, while HTTP doesn’t.
So how does HTTPS encrypt Data, but why HTTP doesn’t?
We will understand this step by step:
How HTTP Works?
HTTP or HyperText Transfer Protocol provides a number of protocols for clients (browsers, servers, apps, software) and hosts (servers).
These protocols instruct how to access the information, transfer it, display it, and what action should be initiated when a certain command arrives.
The first documented version of HTTP is V0.9. Created and developed by Tim Berners and his Team at CERN, HTTP was widely accepted by the developers. With time HTTP has been updated and improved a lot, but the method is still the same request-response model.
Before anything, there are three important things you need to know:
Connections are not Permanent
The Client and the Server never remain in connections. The client sends the request and then the connection breaks. To send a response, the server has to re-establish a connection with the client. In this way, the Client and the Server never remain in a connection when they are not sending the data.
Sharing Data Every Time
The Client and Server know each other only during the connection. After the connection ends, they have to start sharing the information from the beginning when the new connection established. Every new connection act like it is the first connection between the server and the host.
Can Deliver any Data
Any type of data could be delivered via HTTP, as long as both the Agent and Server can read it. In the beginning, only text-based data could be fetched, but there are lots of improvements and updates, and now HTTP can deliver any form of data.
How HTTP Fetches the Information?
When you put an URL in the browser, the browser sends the request to Server, to fetch the content the URL is directing to. The request is sent through the Proxies. Proxies are the medium through which the request has been sent.
In response, the Server sends the responses as per the Request.
This is the request sent by the Client.
- Request Methods
In request Line, there could be 9 methods:
GET, DELETE, HEAD, POST, TRACE, OPTIONS, CONNECT, PUT and PATCH.
These methods are the commands that tell the server what to do.
- Address of Content
The second part of the request Line is the Address of the Content.
This is the address of the content, for whom the command has been made.
- HTTP Version
Finally, the HTTP version is specified.
Other than all this stuff, various information is also included in the request. Like the language of the information, the format, and the information of agent.
All of this information comes to the Server. Then the Server reads it and deliver its response.
In the first line, the response tells the HTTP version and send the status code. There are various status codes, and all mean different errors.
- 200 means Okay
- 404 means Not Found
- 502 means Server Errors.
The server also sends other bits of information regarding the content.
Now see an example:
GET / HTTP/1.1 Host: www.example.com
HTTP/1.1 200 OK Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2019 22:38:34 GMT Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8 Content-Length: 138 Last-Modified: Tue, 08 Jan 2019 23:11:55 GMT Server: Apache/220.127.116.11 (Unix) (Red-Hat/Linux) Accept-Ranges: bytes Connection: close <HTML Body>
So, now you know how HTTP helps in making the browser works by fetching the information from the servers.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS was created by Netscape, in order to make the browsing more secure.
While SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) has been updated to TLS (Transfer Layer Security), the web community use the TLS and SSL so interchangeably that they have become synonymous terms.
The TLS helps in making the HTTP Request-Response Cycle secure by encrypting the messages of the Request and Response.
Without the TLS, any Middle Man can read the data, as HTTP send the messages in Plain Text.
The data that has to be transferred between Clients and the Server is wrapped around in an encrypted security layer. Only the recipient have keys to decrypt that layer to access the data and read it. For a middle man, it is just a long string of random characters.
How TLS Encrypts the Data?
Encryption of data is done by using the Public Key, that is decrypted by the Recipients. The Public Key is made available by the server and is present in the SSL certificate.
These certificates are signed by the Certificate Authority. After the Data is encrypted and received, the browser validates the authority of the certificates. Each browser has a list of CA it trust.
After showing the certificates, both Recipient and the Server do the TLS handshake and agree to encrypt the data in a specific way that only both the side could read.
The best part of HTTPS is that at any level if any person collects your data in the middle, the fetched data will be useless to him.
HTTPS makes the web a secure place to browse.
Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
Now you know how the HTTPS works. We see that the function of HTTP and HTTPS are quite the same. But HTTPS is more secure because of its encryption data technique.
But there are more differences between them:
URL is Different
The difference could be seen at the address bar.
The HTTPS before the URL is indication of secure site. Without it, the URL load nacked, without prefix.
The HTTP is not secured, and the data could be read by any person who can get their hands on the data. While HTTPS encrypts data that only the recipient can open.
HTTP transmits data over PORT 40, while HTTPS does it over PORT 443.
When Tim Berners-Lee issued the documentation of the first version of HTTP, he stated:
“If the port number is not specified 80 is always assumed for HTTP.”
When the RFC 1340 was released, IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) assigned the Port 80 to HTTP.
When the new RFC arrived in the year 1994, the HTTPS appeared for the first time in the document and has been assigned port 443.
The reason they choose these ports was that they were available at the time.
HTTP operates on the Application Layer. On the other hand, HTTPS operates on the Transport Layer.
HTTP works on the notion of making the Data readable for the recipients.
While the Transport Layer is responsible for moving the data from Point A to point B. So, operating with Transport Layer, HTTPS enjoy the wrapped security layer.
You need to install signed SSL certificates for the HTTPS.
SSL certificates are available both Free and Expensively priced. You can choose anyone as your business demands.
HTTP does not need any certificates, as it does not decrypt anything, and send everything in Plain Text.
If the security measures the HTTPS provides failed in enticing you to switch over to HTTPS, may be the SEO advantages would do:
Bump in Ranking
Google gives preferences to the sites that use HTTPS over the competitors who don’t.
If you don’t switch, your competitor may take your position.
Google Chrome is one of the most popular browsers. Chrome labels the site as “Not Secure” if the site does not have HTTPS.
That is a red flag for any potential customer.
While the HTTPS sites get Green Secure Signal.
If your online business involves monetary transactions, it becomes very important to have HTTPS. 84% would abandon the purchase if they see the connection is not secure.
And User Behaviour is one of the major ranking factors, after the Rankbrain update.
It is not possible to implement AMP without switching over to the HTTPS.
With more and more searches coming from mobile, and google prioritizing the mobile-first sites, it is important to keep the doors open.
The HTTPS helps in building the Trust. To build trust in business is important for running a long term business.
As you know. The Internet does have an image of being an unsafe environment, so a site should do anything and everything to become secure.
HTTPS is one major way to become safe.
It is better to switch to HTTPS than keeping HTTP and become a victim of any misfortunate events.
We hope this article will help you to grasp the conceptual difference between HTTP and HTTPS.
If the doubts still remain, leave your query in the comments.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the main difference between HTTP and HTTPS
The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS is security. HTTP is not secure, and HTTPS use TLS to encrypt the data and secure the connection.
Which is better HTTP or HTTPS?
Between HTTP and HTTPS, HTTPS is a better option. It improves trust and helps in SEO too.
Is HTTPS faster than HTTP?
Well, it is complicated. Initially, there are few connections HTTPS has to make the connection secure before actually transmitting the Data. It takes a little bit of time. But HTTP/2 is fast.
Gradually, more and more sites will update to HTTP/2.
Why HTTPS is more secure than HTTP?
HTTPS is more secure than HTTP because it delivers the information in encryption form. That encryption can only be opened by the recipients.
That’s why it is safe from Man in the Middle Attack and Hijack Attacks.
How do I redirect HTTP to HTTPS?
There are various ways to redirect HTTP to HTTPS.