Technology

HTTP vs HTTPS: The Difference and Everything you would like to understand

As industries move towards exponential growth, they are facing the risk of a data breach. To stay ahead of the cybercriminals, organizations are securing their networks more than ever before. The global cyber security market has reached to US$ 173 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach to almost US$ 270 billion by 2026.  

The cost of a successful data breach is immense. It would lead to loss of reputation, possible penalties and fines from government agencies and lawsuits. As per a research done by IBM, the average cost of a successful data breach costs US$ 3.9 million. Of late, there have been several high-profile data breaches, and the risk of identity theft has increased manifold.  

What is HTTP?

HTTP is a protocol that was used for websites. The full name of HTTP is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol in which the date between the server and the user’s browser passes but in a plain text. Due to rising online threats, organizations, search engine giants, browsers have started to move towards HTTPS- a secure version.

About HTTPS, and why do you require it?

It is crucial to minimize the risk of data theft. Organizations must have policies in place and inform employees about them. Businesses must install an SSL certificate that will help in thwarting a data breach. It will encrypt the communication between the web server of the host and the web browser of the visitor. The communication can be understood only by the expected receiver by using a private key. The conversation is over the HTTPS (or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol along with the modern TLS (or Transport Layer Security) protocol.

The HTTPS protocol is different from the earlier HTTP protocol. HTTP keeps the data in a plain text and cyber culprit can sniff it and misuse it while in HTTPS, this activity can be stopped with a strong encryption. The certificate will convert the communication into an encrypted code that cannot be read by any third-party.

Now that we have discussed the difference between HTTP and HTTPS, let us now consider the other benefits that HTTPS brings.

Benefits of HTTPS vis-à-vis HTTP

Improves SEO rank

The major search engines like Google have always prioritized the betterment of user experience. In 2014, Google came up with an update that penalized non-HTTPS sites. Once Google tanks your rank because you have a non-HTTPS website, it could take a long time to come up in the rankings unless you shift to an HTTPS site.

Build Trust with Visitors 

All major web browsers have started penalizing non-HTTPS sites. In 2018, Google Chrome came up with an update that marked non-HTTPS sites as “Not Secure”. Visitors were able to check in real-time whether a website was safe to browse. If it were not, they would abandon the site right away.

Confirms your identity

As the SSL certificate can be allocated to the entity that owns the domain, the Certificate Authority (CA) undertakes a rigorous check about the owner and the organization. Only when the business fulfills all the required criteria, the certificate is allocated to them. As a result, visitors can rest assured that they visit an official website and have not been waylaid through any phishing email.

Adherence to industry guidelines

The e-commerce industry is among the industries that bear the brunt of cyber attacks. If you want to sell your products or services online, you must adhere to the PCI-DSS guidelines. The guidelines require that you have an HTTPS site as each website that carries online credentials and transactions should follow PCI DSS guidelines. All e-commerce sites should use an SSL certificate.

Switching to HTTPS

Businesses must request their webmasters to take extreme care when they are switching over to HTTPS. There are several steps to be followed to switch to a secure protocol.

  1. First, you must glance at the resources at your disposal and select the SSL certificate to be procured. For example, If your website has several sub-domains, you must choose a Wildcard SSL certificate
  2. Then you need to pay your preferred vendor for the certificate, after which you can install the SSL certificate on the website hosting account. 
  3. You must always be on your guard and do take a backup of the site in case you need it.
  4. As a next step, check your website and convert any hard links that are there from http to https. You may take note that a mix of http and https links can be detrimental from an SEO point of view. Always utilize a tool that can check whether all https links have been converted to https.
  5. Webmasters may use a CMS Plugin to convert all the server traffic to the new protocol. If the website does not use any CMS, this activity must be done manually.
  6. Webmasters must ensure that all internal links must be updated to HTTPS. Also make sure about canonical tags updating. The Hreflang tags also must lead to the HTTPS site. 
  7. Use 301 redirects to ensure that the search engines know that there is a change in the site, and they must index the website as per the new protocol. 
  8. The code libraries, like JavaScript and the plugins that have been used across your website, must be updated. 
  9. You must update any references to images and scripts. The robots.txt must be updated, and it must also include the latest sitemap.
  10. The Htaccess applications and the internet services manager must be redirected to the HTTPS protocol.
  11. You must also update the links in your marketing activities, the CDN’s SSL settings, and the landing pages. 
  12. Set up an HTTPS site in the Google Analytics and Search Console.

Your webmaster needs to spare some time to ensure a hassle-free transfer of the site from HTTP to HTTPS. However, it is worth the effort as your visitors are assured they visit a secure site. On the other hand, you also have enhanced engagement, and your SEO ranks improve too.

Conclusion

Due to the frequent cyber attacks, it is crucial to set up policies to thwart such attacks. Businesses are rapidly taking strides, and the cyber security industry is multiplying. You must procure an SSL certificate from SSL certificate providers to ensure that your data is encrypted, and it becomes meaningless for a third-party. Always ensure that you do not have any HTTP content in the HTTPS site as it could lead to mixed content, and your SEO ranking may be tanked.