The difference between HTTP and HTTPS

It seems like every day features yet another story in the news about hacked websites and stolen information, urging the public to change their passwords to secure their data. The general population has a growing awareness about keeping their data secure, and they expect any website they visit to have taken the necessary steps to ensure their information is safe.

Any website that collects data from it’s users needs to set up SSL. From yoga studios that offer online signups for classes to chat forums to image sharing platforms and more, SSL is not just for credit card authorization security.

For a small business owner, when it comes to collecting information from their customers, it can be a make-or-break moment if their website gets attacked and hacked. If an e-commerce website expects people to enter credit card, PayPal, and shipping information to set up purchases, that website should have HTTPS in place prior to launch.

There is a big difference in that little ’s’ added on to the end of HTTP. That difference is security.


What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is the latest version of HTTP, building on its functionality to add security to its capabilities. Basically they are the same. However, HTTPS offers users peace of mind in protecting the transfer of data.

The technology behind HTTPS works by simply encrypting the user’s data as it flows between their web browser and the server of the website. By scrambling this data, anyone trying to intercept is unable to read it, thus protecting from hackers and bots. The pages will use either TLS (Transport Security Layer) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). TLS is the newer version of the standard SSL and are basically one and the same. When a secure connection is requested via HTTPS, the SSL / TLS uses a public key to encrypt the data, and a private key to decrypt the information upon receipt. This is referred to as the SSL handshake, when both parties validate authorization through a secured connection via a secret key.

SSL encryption uses 128 or 256 bit encryption, a bit being the tiniest part of computational information represented by either a one or a zero. Using 128 bit encryption does not require as much operational power and is therefore faster than 256. Some argue that the newer 256 bit encryption is stronger, however 128 bit is still extremely strong and considered unbreakable by most security experts. In a brute-force attack, it could take literally thousands of years to break through a 128 bit encryption.

Because HTTPS creates a secure connection, it has quickly become the new standard on the world wide web. Global audiences, customers and business owners understand that without that ’s’ in the URL address, their browsing activity is at risk. The way large swaths of the world’s population use the internet for banking, business, personal communication and more require data security. HTTPS is a simple signifier for everyone of all skill levels to know that the e-commerce and business sites they visit are safe.

When setting up a small business website, be it for offering consulting and design services or selling the newest, latest widgets, creating an HTTPS URL is a necessary step. This can easily be done by purchasing an SSL certificate. Once the URL is hosted with a dedicated IP address, the certificate can be purchased and installed through the host. All the owner needs to do is then update their website to use HTTPS.


Why is it advantageous for businesses to adopt HTTPS?

Cryptography can be seen as an evolutionary arms race. With each improvement to security, hackers get to work on breaking the new system. Without HTTPS, a website owner is using outdated technology that has already been proven to be insufficient in safeguarding data.

The more a website grows, becomes successful in e-commerce, or builds an audience, the more vulnerable it is. Financial information, logins, passwords, and other personal data are safer with SSL / TLS certificates.

HTTPS is a signal of trust and credibility. It is just as important as a brand name in building a reputation of professionalism. If a customer is entering a credit card number into a small business website, they need to feel confident about the purchasing process. Warnings such as “Site Not Secure” will appear on HTTP websites that will scare off an audience immediately. When customers see the security padlock displayed in the browser’s URL bar, they’ll feel confident that the business in question prioritizes and takes seriously user data security.

HTTPS also has the advantage of improving rankings. Google has pushed the installation of HTTPS by offering SEO as a slight ranking boost over HTTP websites that could be competitors within the same of work. HTTPS is used as a ranking signal, with Google stating that they will most likely decide to strengthen its abilities to affect ranking in the near future. Given this news, it is wise to get ahead of the SEO trends and implement HTTPS as soon as possible.

In 2016, 40% of all Google’s top page organic search results were from sites using HTTPS.
Google has been steadily pushing developers to use more secure technology via boosting search engine rankings. By rewarding best practices, HTTPS is becoming the standard.


Conclusion

If you’re serious about your website, you should get started on the right foot by using HTTPS as quickly as possible.

The benefits of transitioning an old website from HTTP to HTTPS, or starting a new website with HTTPS cannot be overstated. Protecting user data from hackers should be a priority for every website, no matter if it’s a blog, a website for a local business, or a full-fledged e-commerce site. One breach can easily sink a small business’ reputation and future growth. With customer confidence in a business’ security measures, HTTPS ensures a leg-up from the competition that hasn’t transitioned from HTTP.

It is safe to assume that with the incredible global growth in conducting business, banking and purchasing online that HTTPS will be demanded by customers and standardized by search engines.

The short version is this: Encryption of data is becoming the standard norm across the internet, and to create a website with credibility and confidence, HTTPS is a must. No matter how large or small an online business or other website aims to be, HTTPS offers the gold standard in security to users, and there is a security certificate made for your needs.

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