http vs https?

The Difference and Why You Should Care!

Do you own a website or plan to have one?

If so, I guess you probably have heard people telling you to switch your website from the usual HTTP to HTTPs.

Many people cite Google’s recent announcement that failure to switch could have a negative effect on your ranking and traffic. But what does it really mean to switch from HTTP to HTTPS? While the business owners may be concerned with the question of whether or not the stress of switching from HTTP to HTTPS is really worth it, it may sound a little strange to the new site owners, and almost like a foreign language. So just to help clear up some misunderstanding, we shall begin by looking at what HTTPS is and why it is important that you make the switch especially now with google chrome blocking non HTTPS websites. We shall be comparing the HTTP vs HTTPS features later on. Let’s get started with the question;

‘What is HTTPS?’

Literally, HTTP (note: no “S”) stands for hypertext transfer protocol. It is simply a protocol which allows smooth communication between the web server and a browser. Its main function is to transfer data which is viewed on web pages via the different browsers. But the problem is that this data is not secure. This implies that third parties can intercept to gather data being transferred between the two systems. To address this issue, a secure version known as the HTTPS is developed (here the “S” stands for Secure). HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is basically the procedure for encrypting and exchanging information and connections between the server and the browser. It guarantees the confidentiality of the user’s data. But to secure your site and encrypt the data, you must have an SSL certificate.

What is an SSL Certificate and why do you need it?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. An SSL certificate is essentially a piece of software that is installed on a server to facilitate encryption. The Code on SSL, sometimes called Transport Layer Security (TLS), is used to send the information back and forth to create a secure encrypted connection between the web server and the web browser. SSL certificate is essentially issued by trusted third parties called certification authorities in order to be trusted by browsers such as OpenTrust, Geotrust, Comodo, and Symantec. Websites now have a Secure/Not Secure binary that labels based on their SSL implementation.
Basically, you need SSL because:

  • SSL Encrypts Sensitive Information
  • SSL Provides Authentication
  • SSL Provides Trust
  • SSL is required for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance especially for the e-commerce sites

Why do you have to care about HTTPS?

Website Security

Until recently, HTTPS was used only by e-commerce sites for their payment pages. But with the geometric growth of the internet, there is the need for web security. Any data passed is insecure and prone to hackers without HTTPS. This is especially important for sites where sensitive data is passed across the connection, such as sites that require users to enter their credentials in addition to the e-commerce sites that accept online card payments.

The HTTPS protocol and impact on SEO

Now, let’s talk about the consequences for SEO. Though authentication by a certification authority does not guarantee that you progress mechanically in the organic search results, it is indeed one of the many criteria taken into account by Google algorithm. You will probably lose an asset against your competitors by not adopting the HTTPS. For the business owners, this could mean less traffic and less business. At this point, we should be able to figure the key difference between HTTP and HTTPS in terms of security. But by way of comparison, we shall be considering other features as we look at the question;

What is the Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS features?

Below are some of the features of HTTP and HTTPS protocols

HTTP

  •  No SSL certificates are required for HTTP
  • HTTP URL in your browser’s address bar is HTTP://
  • HTTP sends data over port 80
  • HTTP operates at the application layer 
  • HTTP doesn’t require domain validation 
  • No encryption in HTTP which makes the site insecure and prone to hackers

HTTPS

  • HTTPS it is required that you have an SSL certificate and it is signed by a CA.
  • HTTPS uses port 443.
  • HTTPS operates at the transport layer.
  • HTTPS URL is HTTPS://.
  • HTTPS requires at least domain validation. Certain certificates would require legal document validation.

What Does It Cost?

With certain hosts, they include an SSL into their hosting plan. Bluehost, for example, is one of those platforms that already include it into your package – for no additional cost. When you’re looking at hosts check to see if they include this, or what the cost is for it – if there even is one.

GoDaddy, for example, does not include this in their managed hosting package – an SSL is an additional $70/year & you can’t use a third-party provider like that of Cloudflare. 

Summary

As a website owner, security is one aspect you need to consider if you want to gain the trust and confidence of your visitors. The recent change from HTTP to HTTPS protocol is Google’s way of ensuring the security of the internet and curbing different forms of hacking which is on the increase. To secure your site and encrypt the data, you must have an SSL certificate which is issued by trusted third parties called certification authorities.

If you are still lost on this process, I would be happy to help you get everything switched over and viewable by potential clients.

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