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Security and Your Website: HTTP and HTTPS

Website Security, SSL certificate, Make Your Website Secure, Encrypted Data Transfers, Data Encryption

As of March 2020, 94% of traffic on Google is over encrypted sites. Big G is set to making that reach 100% soon, especially now that Chrome 81 has rolled out. This Chrome version will block audio, video, and mixed content that don’t use HTTPS.

Google won’t stop there though. By June 2020, Chrome 83 will block “risky downloads”, many of which come from HTTP sites. This could mean that content sent over HTTP will not display properly on Chrome.

At this point, you’re likely wondering what all this HTTP and HTTPS talk is about. What do these two even mean and what does the s in https stand for anyway? Why should you even care?

We’ll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!

What Do HTTP and HTTPS Mean?

HTTP stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol.” It’s the protocol that makes it possible to transfer data over the World Wide Web.

The same applies to the first four characters in HTTPS, while the “S” stands for “Secure”.

Browsers display sites that only use HTTP as http://, preceded by a “!” and a “Not Secure” warning. Whereas sites that use HTTPS begins with a closed lock icon, followed by a URL that starts with https://.

Why the Extra “S” Matters

Every time you access a website, the browser you use sends a request to that site’s web server. The server will then respond with a corresponding HTTP status code.

If the web address you’re trying to access is valid, that status code should be one that grants you access to the site. From there, the server will transmit the webpage and its contents to your browser.

Sites that don’t use encryption process these requests and responses in plain text. This means that anyone can also access, read, and tamper with them. All these can happen over websites that only receive and respond via HTTP.

HTTPS addresses and fixes this problem through the use of TLS or SSL encryption. TLS stands for “Transport Layer Security” while SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer”. Either way, a TLS or SSL certificate puts the S in HTTPS.

Since HTTPS requests and responses come with encryption, they’re safer than standard HTTP.

Why HTTP Is Bad For Your Website (And Your Business)

Google, Safari, and Firefox together hold almost 90% of the browser market share in the US. These top three browsers now flag all websites that still run on HTTP as “not secure”. Anyone who wishes to visit an HTTP site will receive this warning.

Even if you use the less popular Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer, you’ll get the same warning. In IE, the message may be a bit different, but the gist is the same — that the site isn’t encrypted.

As such, if you own a site and it doesn’t have a website security certificate, people may consider it dubious. They’re unlikely to stay on your site, and instead, be quick to leave or exit the page.

A huge reason for this is the threat of cybercrime. Cybercrime, after all, has victimized at least 43% of surveyed American consumers. In 2019 alone, a staggering 1,473 data breaches occurred, which led to 164.7 million exposed records.

The Primary Benefit of Encrypted Data Transfers

TLS/SSL certificates are encryption systems designed to convert data into a code. Think of it as a cipher that looks simply like a random string of letters and numbers. That’s exactly what hackers will see if they try to intercept transmitted data.

For instance, let’s say that you want to use your credit card to buy something from an SSL-using website. When you confirm your payment details, the SSL certificate will change your CC info into a code. It will look like something that doesn’t mean anything.

That’s just one way that encryption helps make websites safer and more secure. So, if you’ve been wondering, “Is HTTPS secure?”, yes, it is, if you compare it to standard HTTP. It won’t make your website immune to cyberattacks, but it can help make data transmission safer.

How Else Can Encryption Benefit Websites

HTTPS protects websites and visitors from cyber “eavesdroppers” and “peeping Toms”. Aside from encrypting payment info, TSL/SSL certificates also protect login credentials. They can also safeguard account information stored and transmitted over the web.

This is why most sites requiring logins, as well as personal data and financial details, use HTTPS. From email platforms to banking apps to eCommerce stores to social media — all of them now run on HTTPS.

In addition, having an HTTPS site can help improve your site ranking on Google search results. In fact, Google has factored in the use of HTTPS as a ranking signal since 2014. This is why the company has pushed through with the aforementioned Chrome updates.

All these should be enough reason to migrate all parts of your website to HTTPS. Otherwise, that “Not Secure” warning will just continue to drive your visitors away. Every person who leaves your site is a potential loss of profits on your part.

More than that, there’s also the risk of becoming liable in case security issues do arise. The last thing you want is for hackers to steal your customers’ banking or credit card details.

Start Making Your Website Safer and More Secure Today

There you have it, your complete guide on everything that sets HTTP and HTTPS sites apart. HTTPS is more secure than HTTP, so it’s best to make all your web pages and content run on HTTPS. The sooner you get those TSL/SSL certificates, the better your site security will be.

Looking for more ways to get your website up to security standards? Then be sure to check out the rest of the posts filed under this site’s Hardware and Software sections! While you’re at it, save us on your bookmarks bar too, so you can stay updated on the latest in tech news.


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