What is the Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS?


HTTP and HTTPS are used to transfer data on the Internet. Although this may seem to be a small technical aspect, in reality, the topic concerns everyone, from the common user to the owner of an online store. For a user, the secure protocol determines the safety of his/her personal data, and for site owners, the viability of the site.

What is HTTP

HTTP is a Layer 7 application protocol. The order of it works is the following: the client sends a request to the resource location server, the protocol formats the data in the appropriate way and provides the result, and then the browser displays the received data. In general, HTTP is a set of rules for transferring information between the browser and the server. It is based on the client-server data transfer.

Currently, the HTTP protocol is a major factor in the normal operation of the Internet, providing the transfer of information between servers and the browser. It is easy to use and provides fast data exchange. However, HTTP is mainly used in entertainment sites, where data security is not an as significant issue, so customers less trust it.

For example, if the online store uses the HTTP protocol, then when sending payment card data it would not be difficult for an intruder to intercept this data between the site and the server where the online store is located.

Hackers can also intercept traffic to the site and add snippets to each data packet. In March 2015, hackers used such a scheme in a DDoS attack on GreatFire.org and GitHub.

What is HTTPS and how does it work

The letter "s" in HTTPS stands for "secure". Web resources that use the HTTPS protocol send encrypted data, meaning that on the way from the user's computer to the server, the information is passed around in an unreadable form. It is a random set of characters. The data is decrypted in a single web session, so it is impossible to find a universal decryptor that will allow bringing any data in a readable form.

Thus, HTTPS is the same HTTP protocol, but protected by cryptography. It provides three important principles, allowing encryption (to protect against interception), storage (to record any changes), and authentication (to prevent redirecting the client) of data. These are the three layers of security that make HTTPS a must-have for all modern websites.

How does it work? SSL (secure sockets layer) and TLS (transport layer security) protocols are used as encryption tools that protect the information using cryptographic methods.

When a user enters a site address, the browser sends a request to the site server for its SSL certificate. In response, the server sends the certificate, and then the browser verifies it with the certificate authority. In the next step, the browser and the server "agree" to encrypt the connection using a common one-time asymmetric key that is created automatically each time you log on to the site. As a result, the secure HTTPS connection between the site and visitors' browsers are encrypted by cryptography. Even if an unauthorized person intercepts this data, they cannot use it because it is transmitted as encryption.

SSL HTPPS


The most important factor in HTTPS reliability and security is SSL authentication. To make a site secure, its owner must obtain an SSL certificate at a special certification centers and then upload it to the server. It is issued by special certification centers. They also verify the certificate when users' browsers request it. Without verification SSL certificates are deemed invalid – if the browser does not receive a confirmation from the certificate authority, it will simply deny the user access to that site.

Why HTTPS should be enabled on a website

What benefits does HTTPS provide to website owners, and who needs it most?

If your site processes users' personal or financial information, then it is a must to ensure its protection – otherwise, visitors won't trust. Most visitors will not even risk registering without a secure connection, and certainly will not enter their bankcard data.

In addittion, web browsers carefully monitor the availability of SSL certificates. When trying to open a site without HTTPS, any browser will first warn that the connection is insecure and user’s data may become available to outsiders.


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author: Daria Kravtsova
published: 07/13/2022
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