When you open a website, have you ever noticed that they start with the letter HTTP or HTTPS, what's the difference between the two?
What is the HTTP?
The full name for HTTP is Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In simple words, HTTP is a communication protocol. It allows the transmission of hypermedia documents such as HTML.
In other words, HTTP forms the foundation for any form of data exchange through the World Wide Web. That's why it’s a key part of an URL address. Without HTTP, you can’t browse the web, send or receive data through the internet.
Advantages of HTTP:
- Flexible and extensible. It is easy to send, receive data, and browser the internet using HTTP
- Stateless, convenient to achieve clustering, and avoid the interaction of various requests and the masses.
- Fast response. Communication via HTTP is instant unless your internet connection is unstable or slow.
Disadvantages of HTTP:
- Plaintext transmission, data visible, easy to be analyzed and monitored
- If communication identity is not verified, hackers can easily disguise themselves.
- The integrity of the transmitted content cannot be determined.
What is HTTPS?
HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. It’s a web communication protocol whereby the transfer of encrypted HTTP data takes place through a secure connection. HTTPS uses the SSL/TLS protocol to encrypt data sent or received on the internet.
In other words, there is not much difference between HTTP and HTTPS in terms of functionality, only that the latter has security encryption. HTTPS is a secure version of HTTP, thus suitable for transferring sensitive data such as login credentials and credit card numbers securely through the web.
Advantages of HTTPS:
- Authentication: HTTPS Authenticates the SSL certificate information to confirm the real identity of a website and enable users to identify the correct website information
- Data encryption and transmission: HTTPS encrypts and decrypts data using the SSL encryption layer and secure sockets to ensure data security during transmission.
- Data integrity: Using HTTPS protocol, you can prevent data contents from being stolen and changed during transmission, so that you can get real and reliable data.
- Improve SEO: Using HTTPS does not affect inclusion, but can also get a better website ranking.
Disadvantages of HTTPS:
- The cost of SSL certificates is high, and the deployment, update, and maintenance of SSL certificates on the server is cumbersome
- HTTPS slows down website access due to multiple handshakes (protocol authentication)
- HTTPS involves security algorithms that consume CPU resources, which means sites require higher server configurations.
Upgrade HTTP to HTTPS
Having identified the advantages and disadvantages of HTTP and HTTPS, it's recommendable to upgrade HTTP to the latter. Besides, Google is pushing hard to make sure everyone is using HTTPS to enhance online safety for everyone. Here is a detailed guide on how to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS.
Step 1: Purchase an SSL certificate
The first step when upgrading from HTTP to HTTPS is buying an SSL certificate. Once you install the certificate, it will activate HTTPS protocol, thus allowing safe connections between servers and web browsers. You also need to choose the right certificate based on your business needs.
The options to choose from include domain validation certificate, business /organization validation certificate, and extended validation certificate. It’s good to buy an SSL certificate from your hosting company so that you can make sure it’s active and flawless.
Step 2: Install the SSL certificate
Now that you have the SSL certificate, the next step is to install it on your web server. The process is even easier if you buy the SSL certificate from your hosting company because they will install it on your behalf.
Step 3: Test your certificate
Once you have installed an SSL certificate on your web servers, you need to check whether it’s working properly. You can do so using online tools from reputable sources such as SSL Labs Server Test.
You also need to check if the internal linking has migrated from HTTP to HTTPS before going live to ensure no migration mistakes.
Step 4: Set Up 301 redirects
You need to set up 301 redirects after installing an SSL certificate so that you can redirect all server traffic to your new and secure HTTPS. Once you do that, visitors/clients to your site who have bookmarked it under HTTP will be routed to the proper secure URL.
Be safe online
The fact you visit HTTPS websites only or you have upgraded from HTTP to HTTPS isn’t a guarantee that you are safe online. You can still be a victim of online attacks and have your data contents stolen if you don’t put additional effort to enhance your online safety and privacy.
Therefore, I recommend that you always visit secure websites to ensure your own security. If necessary, use security tools such as VPN or proxy to protect your privacy and security when browsing the internet.