What Does HTTPS Stand For ?
You are sure to have come across HTTP or HTTPS as you browse around the web. So, what do HTTP and HTTPS stand for? HTTP stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The more secure version of that is referred to as HTTPS or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.
What is HTTPS?
Data can be sent or received via your browser in two methods, either by using the standard protocol or the secure one. When you visit a website that has HTTP, it means that you are communicating with the web server in a way where the data stays unencrypted. If you are just browsing around, this will not make a big difference. However, let’s assume you are going to pay for something or register online at a bank. You will be typing in your private and confidential data. When such sensitive data is communicated without encryption, it poses a security risk. Hackers or attackers could easily snatch up these data and use it for their gain. This is why HTTP is seldom used by online businesses or financial institutions. In fact, if you are using Chrome, Google sends you an alert if you are entering a non-secure website.
In many cases, when you are exchanging private and confidential data, you would do well to ensure that the website is HTTPS. For instance, credit card transactions require HTTPS. However, this is not always the case. With the rapid increase in cyber crimes and hacking activities, it is better to install a browser extension called HTTPS Everywhere. This works with Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Google Chrome, Brave, and Firefox for Android. More and more users have started using this to ensure their data’s security. The situation is so serious that besides tools like this, even governments of many countries around the globe are strengthening their regulations.
Understanding HTTP and HTTPS
HTTP is an application layer protocol via which data is sent from the browser to the website. Since the information is usually in text format, it is easy to understand it if it was hacked in between. That is why it is dangerous and unreliable to use HTTP when communicating and sending your highly sensitive data, such as your credit card details or health information.
HTTPS, on the other hand, uses other protocols like the TLS (Transport Layer Security) and the SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). Although it works in a similar manner to HTTP, every data that makes its way through it is encrypted and hence, secure. The padlock icon you might have seen on Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Internet Explorer indicates that it is a secure website. The SSL encrypts the data, such as your personal details and financial information, so that it cannot be used by anyone.
Since the unencrypted HTTPS undergoes a lot of processes, meaning more data is sent over the server, making it slower. HTTPS, however, is faster and more secure.
Importance of HTTPS or Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure
To put it very simply, HTTPS ensures that your web browsing is safe and secure. Unencrypted websites are more vulnerable to hacks. This means that the hackers or attackers could easily install malicious software, affecting you. Using HTTPS will help in thwarting many such attacks since using encrypted transfers will make it more difficult for hackers. While its benefits are numerous, its adoption is quite slow. More needs to be done so that it can be seen globally.
Obstacles to the use of HTTPS
So, what is stopping the adoption of HTTPS? In the past, HTTPS found it difficult to establish since the SSL certificates didn’t come free since they needed to be issued by specific authorities. The only alternative was to go with self-signed certificates. While this seems possible, the fact that it shows up a warning on the browser led many to avoid the website, lowering the traffic of that site. If a user wanted to increase their online presence, the only way they had was to use HTTP or shell out money for an HTTPS certificate when they could ill afford. Larger businesses and companies didn’t find it a big difference, but smaller companies and blogs struggled with this.
The solution is here. Let’s Encrypt is a free certificate authority, having the rights to issue free certificates. They are valid for a time period of 90 days. It is a pretty new system and has just passed Beta. Let’s Encrypt can issue a certificate via WP-Encrypt, a WordPress plugin or ZeroSSl, or Certbot.
Another option is to add Let’s Encrypt is through your hosting provider. Many top hosts have started integrating the services of Let’s Encrypt to make it simpler for their users. To increase the adoption, Google started to incorporate the presence of HTTPS as a factor in determining the SEO ranking.