There are many reasons to convert your website to HTTPS. Read on to find out more.
What is HTTP?
Before we get into what HTTPS is, one must first have a grasp of what HTTP is. Forgive us if we get too technical. We will try to keep this as simple as possible.
The full form of HTTP is Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The meaning of HTTP can be found out by breaking down what each word stands for.
‘Hypertext’, uses logical links, or hyperlinks between the nodes that contain text.
Some of you may have noticed that the word ‘hypertext’ sounds familiar. This is because Hypertext Markup Language is the full form of HTML and where HTTP gets the ‘hypertext’ part from. Hypertext allows the extensive cross-referencing between text and graphics.
Transfer refers to the exchange of some item from one person to another. Files are transferred from the server to the browser so the user could see them. The files are the images, text, videos, etc. that make up the website.
A protocol is a rule or a set of rules. The internet is not without its own rules. In this sense, the protocol consisted of guidelines to transfer a website from the server to a computer, or from one computer to another.
Every website that you visit, be it Reddit, Slack, Opteamize, or example.com is located on a server. This is known as ‘hosting’ and one server can host multiple sites. Note that HTTP can send other types of files as well, but it is mainly for websites.
HTTPS is the future, but now let’s take a blast to the past.
History of The Internet and HTTP
“Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch.” – Tim Berners-Lee
The word ‘hypertext’ was coined by Ted Nelson years in 1963. However, HTTP origins began in 1989 with Timothy John Berners-Lee, who is a computer scientist and the inventor of the world wide web (WWW) as we know it. You may recall us mentioning Mr. Berners-Lee in our article about the Future of Bots.
Back to HTTP. Before HTTP, there was FTP (File Transfer Protocol). However, HTTP was designed specifically for websites.
Mr. Berners-Lee created the first website at CERN in March of 1989. The same year in November, he successfully established the first successful communication between an HTTP client and a server. The very first website in the world went live on 6th August 1991.
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the World Wide Web Web Consortium (W3C), Which Berners-Lee is now the director of, were also extensively involved in the development of HTTP.
Finally, on 30th April 1993, CERN released the software for the WWW to the public. Since then, a variety of websites have blown up on the public domain.
Can you believe that there are nearly 2 billion websites today with more being added every second? We hit one billion websites in September 2014. That’s what Internet Live Stats tells us.
Types of Website Connections
This is all fascinating (or boring) stuff, but how does HTTPS fit into all of this?
Please note that there are three types of website connections:
- Not Secure
You can also read this Google post on how to check if a site’s connection is secure.
Please note that the following information applies to the Chrome web browser and may vary for people using Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or some other browser.
To identify HTTP, take a look at the left of the web address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator). URLs for these type of sites begin with http:// so a full URL would be http://www.insertwebsitehere.com
When you enter an address into a browser, it sends a command to the server to fetch the requested page. In this case, the browser is the client and the website host is the server.
Sometimes your browser itself will notify you that the website is unsafe in the case of an HTTP site.
This could be a dangerous site and therefore you’re better off not visiting the site.
As for sites with ‘Info’, proceed with caution. Even some big sites have the info mark so it’s better to not log in or share personal details on these types of sites.
Then, we move to the last type of site. For an HTTPS site, the URL would begin with https:// and read https://www.insertwebsitehere.com
There’s only one letter that varies between HTTP and HTTPS. It is a small difference but it makes a big impact. This is true for any website.
Google even stated in a blog post on February 8th, 2018 that it would mark all HTTP sites as ‘not secure’ on their Chrome browser beginning from July 2018. According to Google, over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected.
Secure connections began to be used for sensitive information such as payment transactions, personal and corporate emails, private messages, etc. As of late, that has started to change.
HTTP vs. HTTPS
“You affect the world by what you browse.” – Tim Berners-Lee
Major websites such as Facebook, Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Wikipedia all made the switch to HTTPS long back. Now, other sites are following suit.
There is an increasing number of HTTPS page loads in Mac, Windows, and Android platforms from 2015 according to Google’s stats.
Everything that was transferred with HTTP was done so openly in plain text. The movement to HTTPS was because of the growing popularity of the internet at the time. As more and more people started using the internet, it meant that more and more information got transferred. This included credit card numbers, passwords, bank details, private messages, photos, etc.
People realized that it probably wasn’t a smart idea to send all of this information in a way that everyone could see it. That is why HTTPS came to the fore.
Make no mistake. There are a lot of malicious people out there. Viruses, bugs, trojans, data theft, and brute force attacks are just a handful of things to watch out for both as a user and website owner. HTTPS prevents the bad people such as hackers from intercepting critical details. They cannot misuse your site now.
HTTPS sites are trusted and verified. The communication between the client and the server is encrypted at both ends (bidirectional). This prevents someone from eavesdropping or tampering with your conversation. It is a form of protection keeps the interaction between both parties a secret. HTTPS isn’t just for sites handling sensitive communications.
Having control of your data is becoming extremely important, as we can see from the European Union implementing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws last month, 25th May 2018 to be precise.
HTTP isn’t inherently bad. It can still be used to look up information online or use sites that don’t require a login. However, proceed with caution as your details could be vulnerable.
To give a real-world example, HTTP is you talking with your friend at a party. There’s a room full of people and everyone can hear what you’re saying. With HTTPS, you are still talking to your friend at a party in a room full of people, but you are using a secret language known only to the both of you. Everyone else can still hear you, but it doesn’t matter as it sounds nonsensical to them.
If you don’t care about everyone listening to what you have to say, then go for it. Chances are that you do care, though, as most people value their privacy.
What are the Benefits of Converting to HTTPS?
As of this year, more sites are using HTTPS than HTTP. It is time for you to do so as well if you haven’t already. 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default.
The advantages of HTTPS include:
- Encrypted conversations
- Trust and reliability
- Keeping out hackers and impersonators
HTTPS is more secure and lowers the risk of a security breach occurring. It blocks intruders and prevents the unauthorized use of your website. Messages between the user and the site get scrambled with HTTPS. Because your resources are protected, they are much more difficult to exploit.
It is not just the users, but the websites themselves who must be wary. HTTPS helps thwart scamming and phishing attempts. It keeps your identity and web browsing private. You remain anonymous to others and makes it so that strangers don’t know who you are.
HTTPS decreases the chances of attacks from the “man in the middle” who may disrupt or listen in on conversations between two parties. HTTPS helps ensures the security, privacy, and integrity of your data.
People who visit your site will also know that they can trust your site to not do anything fishy. If you value your privacy and that of your users, you should switch to HTTPS.
Safety First with HTTPS
What makes a site HTTPS? In one word, ‘security’. HTTPS websites have SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certification. HTTPS authentication means that the site has been SSL certified. Not anyone can get this certification, though.
HTTPS plays an important role in deciding what’s safe on the internet. However, it is important that you still remain vigilant. Ultimately, it is up to you, the user, to decide what’s safe and what isn’t. Be sure to check websites and make sure the connection is a secure one.
There are a lot of phony sites designed to look safe but which actually aren’t. Stay away from suspicious sites and remember that if something looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Before using a site, check to make sure it has HTTPS in the URL. This will ensure a safe browsing experience.
There are also fake and phony websites with fraudulent SSL certificates doing the rounds. Google is trying its best to remove them, but you must be on the lookout. It is suggested that you use a popular web browser such as Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer (Now Microsoft Edge) to reduce the risk of stumbling upon an unsafe site.
Especially for sites such as banking and e-commerce which involve payments, always make sure that an HTTPS symbol appears lest you lose your money.
HTTPS and SEO
Having an HTTPS site also plays a role in search engine optimization and where your website gets displayed in the results. HTTPS factoring into a website’s rankings is nothing new. In fact, Google announced that is was using HTTPS as a ranking signal as far back as 2014. Back then, it was only a lightweight signal and people paid no heed. It has become a much bigger deal now, though.
We know you’re probably rolling your eyes and calling us nerds at this point, but this information really is important. Data privacy and security is extremely critical in today’s world. Over 4 billion people use the internet according to Statista so this isn’t something to be taken lightly.
HTTPS maintains the referral data as opposed to HTTP where the data is looted away. Word on the SEO street is that Google will eventually eliminate HTTP websites from the search results. They are already slowly phasing out sites without HTTPS from the top in order to give their users the best possible browsing experience.
Therefore, it behooves you to move the content on your website to an HTTPS. Convert your website to HTTPS right away. If not for security, then for rankings.
However, switching to HTTPS is easier said than done. You need to move all the content, set up robots.txt during the shift, make sure all the elements on a page are secure, add 301 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS links, and much more.
Opteamize Can Help You Shift to HTTPS
Thank you for joining us as we went all the way back to the birth of the internet until how it is in present form. We hope you learned a lot today (other than just the full form of computer acronyms).
Opteamize is a Digital Marketing Agency and one of the website development and enhancement services we offer is migrating your website to HTTPS. Stay safe and secure with Opteamize.
We can help your business increase trust among existing customers and generate new customers. If you need a new site or need help migrating to HTTPS, contact us now.
“The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past.” – Tim Berners-Lee