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HTTP VS HTTPS? Which one is better and secure?

Cyber Security, Security Testing

Friday May 28, 2021

HTTP vs HTTPS what’s the actual difference between these computer network communication protocols? you might have seen both the terminologies displayed in the address bar of a browser or while copying the address from the top of your browser. Both of them are presented like http:// or https:// .  But, how do they differ? and which one is the best option when it comes to HTTP vs HTTPS.

HTTP vs HTTPS

What is HTTP?

HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. They are a set of rules which govern the transmission of any information on the World Wide Web. HTTP also sets the standard rules for the servers, and web browsers to communicate with each other.

HTTP, built on top of TCP; is an application layer network protocol. HTTP is an application layer protocol. It transfers information between networked devices. HTTP works on top layers of the network protocol stack.  HTTP flow includes a client machine that sends a request to a server and gets a  response message in return.

HTTP is known as stateless protocol as every command is independent and executes separately. It does not require the reference of any previous command that is executed.

Sample HTTP Request

GET /index.html HTTP/1.1

Host: www.ABC.com

User-Agent: Chrome/5.0

Accept: text/xml,application/xml,application/xhtml+xml,text/html*/*

Accept-Language: en-us

Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8

Connection: keep-alive

<blank line>

Sample HTTP Response

HTTP/1.1 200 OK

Date: Thu, 24 Jul 2008 17:36:27 GMT

Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1

Content-Type: text/html;charset=UTF-8

Content-Length: 1846

<html>

</html>

Also Read: What does your company cyber system need vulnerability Assessment?

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure.  As the name suggests it’s a more secured version of HTTP. It is also very advanced. For Data Communication HTTPS uses port no. 443. To enhance the security of all the transactions, HTTPS encrypts all the communications that are done with SSL. It is a mix of HTTP and SSL/TLS protocols.

HTTPS works by establishing a  secure encrypted link between the browser and the server. It provides two-way security of Data. It safeguards your potentially sensitive data from various threats.

HTTPS Example

Sample HTTPS Request

request(‘https://example.com/url?a=b’, function (error, response, body) {

  if (!error && response.statusCode == 200) {

    console.log(body);

  }

});

What are the major differences between HTTP and HTTPS?

Some of the major differences between HTTP and HTTPS are:

  1. HTTP does not have any advanced security mechanism whereas HTTPS offers higher security with SSL or TLS Digital Certificate that provides security to all your communication that takes place between server and browser.
  2. By default HTTP works on port 80 and HTTPS works on port 443.
  3. Another major difference lies in that HTTPS runs at Transport Layer whereas HTTP runs at the Application Layer.
  4. Data in HTTP is transferred as plain text and data in HTTPS is transferred as encrypted text.
  5. When talking about their speed, HTTP takes a front seat with being faster as HTTPS consumes more time in encryption.

Now let’s talk in terms of the advantages and disadvantages

First, let’s discuss the advantages of both  HTTP and HTTPS:

HTTP

  1. HTTP has the advantage of being executed with other protocol on the networks
  2. It is not dependent on Runtime support
  3. HTTP pages are faster to access as they are directly stored on computer and internet caches and do not require any encryption.
  4. It allows cross-platform porting
  5. It can be used over Firewalls.
  6. HTTP is platform-independent
  7. Global applications are possible
  8. It is not Connection Oriented

Also Read:

HTTPS

  1. Generally, all the sites running on HTTPS, redirect themselves automatically. Even if your type HTTP://, it will be redirected to HTTPS.
  2. It is used for all secured transactions that allow users like online banking.
  3. It uses SSL technology to protect users. Each SSL contains unique, authenticated information about the certificate owner.

Disadvantages/limitations of HTTP vs HTTPS

Since we have had a glimpse of the advantages of both HTTP and HTTPS, let’s have a look into their limitations.

Starting with HTTP

  1. It provides less or no privacy as content is visible to everyone.
  2. It uses no encryption method and hence the content can be altered by anyone. In short, it provides no security.

HTTPS

  1. Though HTTPS provides security, it cannot secure the cached pages on the browser.
  2. There is no security to the data in the browser memory.
  3. HTTPS is slower.
  4. It enhances the computational overhead.
  5. It increased the network overhead

Difference between HTTP and HTTPS.

Let us now summarize the difference between HTTP and HTTPS.

Parameter HTTP HTTPS
Protocol It is a hypertext transfer protocol. It is a hypertext transfer protocol with security.
Security It is less secure. Anyone can read and edit content. It is more secure and used for secure transactions like banking, etc.
Port Port 80 is the default port Port 443 is the default port.
Usage HTTP URLs begin with HTTP:// HTTPS URLs begin with https://
Used in It is generally used for a website that is focused more on information purposes like blogs It is used for websites that require security like banking websites.
Encryption It does not encrypt data while transferring it. The information is transferred as it is and hence is more vulnerable to threats The data is encrypted before being transferred and is again decrypted at the receiver’s end. Since the data is in encrypted form there are fewer chances of any security threats.
Protocol It operates at the TCP/IP level. Uses HTTP for transmission, with an enhanced TLS/SSL connection for better security
Validations No validations are required It requires an SSL certificate
Data encryption No encryption Uses encryption to secure data
Search It does not have any effect on search. It does not play any role in improving search ranking. It improves the search ranking.
Speed It is faster than HTTPS, as no time is consumed in encryption and decryption It is slower than HTTP, as  time is consumed in encryption and decryption of data
Vulnerability It is very vulnerable to hackers It is less vulnerable to hackers.

Also read: Top 10 Vulnerability list released OWASP that can harm your company

What is an SSL Certificate?

Commonly called a TSL, an SSL certificate is a digitally bind-key that contains crucial information about an organization.  After installation SSL certificates set a padlock that indicates a safe web connection with the PC and the web server connected to it.  SSL certificate helps in encrypting internet traffic and verifies the server identity.

The information included in the SSL certificate

  • The domain name for which the certificate was issued for
  • For whom was the certificate issues to
  • Digital signature of the company
  • The authority which issued this certificate
  • Issue date
  • Subdomains that are associated with the company
  • The expiration date of the certificate
  • Public key

Why do you need an SSL certificate?

  • SSL has the ability to encrypt communication happening between two internet entity so that privacy can be maintained
  • SSL ensures that information is sent to the right server. Pretenders who are waiting to exploit can be avoided because of this
  • SSL icon is a trust symbol and will drive users to access the website

Which one is better when we compare HTTP vs HTTPS?

HTTPS matter a lot when it comes to SEO. Be it any search engine it only prefers to interact with a secure website and the most leading search engine Google themselves have recommended and gave a deadline to convert websites to HTTPS for better ranking

Google HTTPS

HTTPS SEO Advantage

Why do you need HTTPS for creating AMP pages?

HTTPS is essential for creating AMP (accelerated mobile pages). AMP is truly an innovation by google to load web content as swiftly as possible on mobile devices.  When it comes to baking good rank in SERP and gaining the trust of Google HTTPS plays a pivotal role.

HTTPS serves as an important tanking signal as well as a crucial part of cybersecurity.

How to add HTTPS to your website?

SSL is basically a text file with encrypted messages in it. You can buy it from your hosting service and install it on your server so that communications happening between your server and the entity.

Along with an SSL certificate, you also need to install an intermediate certificate  that can help in establishing trust in the SSL certificate  by tying it to the authority root certificate

Conclusion

The answer is clear when it comes to HTTP vs HTTPS .

HTTPS provides added security, it is definitely an added advantage if your website includes some sensitive information as well as in SERP ranking. . But if you are not looking for either of them, HTTP is the best option as it loads fasters.

 

 

 

 

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