Have you ever noticed, at the beginning of every website, are the letters http or https? Take notice and you’ll see that it everytime. But what do http and https stand for? And how are they different from each other?
HTTP stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol”, and it is the protocol used to send data over the internet. Http is written in plain text and can be read by anyone on the internet. The S in https, on the other hand, stands for “secure”. Https encrypts all of the data that is sent, which makes it much more secure as well as more difficult to tamper with.
This article will address and provide answers to the following questions:
When were http and https first used?
Http was first released in 1991 by Tim-Berners-Lee. Mr. Lee is a British computer scientist who is credited with inventing the World Wide Web. Https, on the other hand, was created by Netscape Communications in 1994 as an extension to http to make its web browser, Netscape Navigator, more secure.
What has https traditionally been used for?
Https has traditionally been used for internet usage that needed to be secure due to the risk of theft or to prevent the release of sensitive user information. Banks, shopping websites, and doctors’ offices/hospitals have used https the longest to make certain that financial or patient information stayed secure. Over time, however, https has become more mainstream, and most websites are now implementing https on their websites. In fact, in 2014, Google turned https into a ranking symbol. They not only started using https in their Google Mail, Google Search, and Google Drive, but also started rewarding sites that followed suit with a higher Google ranking.
Why is https becoming more important as time passes?
With http written in plain text, it is easy to intercept and use it for malicious purposes, such as in a “the man in the middle” attack. In that attack, the attacker inserts himself into an online conversation, impersonates both parties, and gains information that the two parties were attempting to send to one another without their knowledge.
Https also reduces the piracy that can occur through an open network connection or public wi-fi network, such as in coffee houses, though it does not stop all attacks.
What’s more, according to Chris Hoffman, content writer for McAfee in the blog “What is HTTPS, and Why Should I Care?”, internet service providers are legally allowed to spy on their customers’ web browsing history and sell it to advertisers, and Verizon created a supercookie that they are using to track ads. What’s more, documents leaked by Edward Snowden back in 2013 indicated that the U.S. government monitors the internet activity of many users, both domestically and abroad. Using https would largely curtail this type of activity. Https, however, is not infallible, however. If you wish to stay secure during your internet usage, you may need to take other steps to protect yourself.
Finally, by using https, you will receive a boost in Google search ranking, so there is a better chance that your website will be found.
How can I tell if a website is being presented as HTTP or HTTPS?
It is easy to determine if a website is being shown as http or https by a quick visual inspection. First, by visually looking at the website URL, you might know. If it says http, guess what? It’s http – and vice versa. It doesn’t always directly state whether a given website is http or https, however. Regardless, you can still tell if a website is http or https if you know what to look for. but if you know what to look for, you can still tell. If a website is https, there will be a lock in the upper left-hand corner in front of the URL such as the following:
What if I open a website using http instead of https?
If you open a https website with http, it will more than likely still come up, but some of its functionality may be missing. If the site asks for permission to access your location, for example it probably won’t, and some pages that request personal or sensitive information may not appear to come up at all. Those pages may appear to have a bug when they are actually functioning according to design since an http website is not secure in any way. What appears to be a problem with the site or page is actually protecting the user.
How do you acquire an https website?
In order to have an https website, the business or organization needs to acquire a security certificate which does expire and needs to be renewed. There are different types of security certificates, and in some cases, depending on the business or organization, you may need more than one type of certificate. Some certificates are free while others do have a price tag. Types of security certificates include the following:
- Domain Validated (DV) SSL Certificate: This type of certificate validates that the domain name is registered to the applicant. It does not verify the identity of the organization and does not provide any additional features.
- Organization Validated (OV) SSL Certificate: This type of certificate validates that the domain name is registered to the applicant, and also verifies the legitimacy of the organization. It provides additional features such as company name display in the certificate.
- Extended Validation (EV) SSL Certificate: This type of certificate provides the highest level of validation available and is used for high-profile, high-security websites. It verifies the domain name, the organization, and provides additional features such as a green bar in the address bar.
- Wildcard SSL Certificate: This type of certificate allows a single certificate to be used to secure multiple subdomains of a domain.
- Multi-Domain (SAN) SSL Certificate: This type of certificate allows a single certificate to be used to secure multiple domains.
- Code Signing Certificate: This type of certificate is used to digitally sign software and other code to verify the author and integrity of the code.
Matraex’s goal is to answer all of your app development and tech-related questions so you can be an informed consumer. Have a question? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact us, send us a message through our website, call us directly, or post a question through our Google Business Profile.
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