Have you ever noticed that when you open a website, it starts with the letter HTTP or HTTPS. However, do you know the difference between the two? I will share with you the advantages and disadvantages.
A website normally has either the HTTP:// or the HTTPS:// before its domain name. The majority of the websites before just had HTTP before the introduction of HTTPS.
The added “s” is a mark for a secure website. However, not all sites use SSL certificates. This can be advantageous or disadvantageous to the users depending on the information being transmitted.
What is HTTP?
In full, HTTP is Hypertext Transfer Protocol. This is an application layer for transmitting hypermedia documents such as HTML. It connects web servers on the internet where they send and receive webpages and files. It uses a set of rules and standards, normally TCP/IP or UDP protocol.
Advantages of HTTP
Easy to access
Web pages are stored as a cache in computers and the internet, making them easily and quickly accessible. Moreover, it can be implemented with other protocols on the internet or other networks.
It supports cross-platform
It is platform-independent thus supports cross-platform porting. Additionally, it does not require runtime support. Hence, just works naturally.
Downloads files independently
It downloads each file over an independent connection and then closes the connection. This reduces the risk of information interception during transfer.
Fewer TCP connections
In HTTP, there is reduced network congestion as there are fewer TCP connections. Moreover, it reports errors without closing the TCP.
Handshaking is done in the initial connection establishment, hence offers a reduced latency in subsequent requests.
Disadvantages of HTTP
It is not encrypted
It is not encrypted, hence transmits data in plain text. The data is visible, easy to analyze, and monitor. The communication identity is not verified, hence hackers can easily disguise themselves. This offers an opportunity for phishing.
The integrity of content can’t be determined
The integrity of the content that is transmitted cannot be determined. Moreover, HTTP does not have push capabilities.
It is not optimized for mobile/ IoT.
HTTP does not offer a reliable exchange (without a retry logic). It has an administrative overhead in which while transmitting a webpage, it creates multiple connections.
The server will not be available after all the required data has been received. This is because the client does not close the connection.
What is HTTPS?
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is an extension of HTTP. It is used for secure communication over a computer network and is widely used on the internet. Communication using HTTPS is encrypted using Transport Layer Security (TLS). In HTTPS an independent authority verifies the identity of the owner of the certificate. Each SSL Certificate contains unique, certified information about the certificate owner.
Advantages of HTTPS
It encrypts connections and helps the users to do secure online transactions. Moreover, it does not save any kind of data on the client system.
As the user, you can authenticate the server. You will be able to see the cookies and the site’s certificates by clicking on the green padlock icon on the web URL.
Ease of Data transfer
HTTPS performs a handshake between the sender, receiver, and all intermediate components. If the validation process is successful, data transfer occurs. If not it will abort all data transfer activity.
HTTPS uses the redirect option to provide increased security. This means if a user enters HTTP:// instead of HTTPS://, it will automatically redirect to an HTTPS:// and establish a secure connection.
Search engine visibility.
Google and most people will prefer a site with SSL certification. This will get you more visits and will be ranked highly on the search engines.
As an avid internet user, you are likely to give out your personal information to a site that you trust and perform transactions online with ease.
Disadvantages of HTTPS
It is costly
It can seem costly to purchase an SSL certificate. Additionally, updating, deploying, and maintaining the SSL certificates on the server is cumbersome.
Due to the encryption and decryption of multiple handshakes, the response time of the site is decreased because of all the computations.
Sometimes users get a warning message of an insecure connection. This is because of site configuration or third-party content running on your website which may not have the SSL certification.
It will be impossible to cache encrypted content especially if the site has a large number of visitors. However, with higher bandwidth, this issue can be counteracted. Additionally, some firewall and proxy systems deny access to HTTPS sites.
How to Upgrade HTTP to HTTPS
Upgrading from HTTP to HTTPS can be done with the following steps:
Step 1: Purchase an SSL certificate from a reputable company like Cloud flare, Zero SSL.
Step 2: Configure the website hosting with the SSL certificate. This is done by adding the private key and the other credentials.
Step 3: Make sure to change all website links to HTTPS.
Step 4: Finally setup 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.
Keep safe online
To be safe online, there are a few ways you can achieve this. By only visiting sites with an SSL certificate (HTTPS ://). With this, you are guaranteed security while providing personal information or transacting online.
Using a VPN is also one of the most known ways of staying safe online. Hide your IP address from peeping eyes and cover your internet footprint. You could also unlock blocked content in your area due to geographical restrictions. Proxy servers act as a firewall and a web filter.