Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) are the two primary protocols for transmitting data on the World Wide Web. HTTP was created in the 1990s, and it is the original protocol for transmitting data on the web. HTTPS, on the other hand, was created to address the security shortcomings of HTTP and provide a higher level of security for transmitting sensitive information. In this article, we will explore the technical difference between HTTP and HTTPS, the reasons for using one over the other, and the implications of using either protocol.
HTTP is a stateless protocol that operates on the Application Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite. It is used to transfer data between a client and a server in the form of requests and responses. When a client (such as a web browser) wants to access a resource on a server, it sends a request to the server. The server then responds with the requested data, if it exists.
One of the key benefits of using HTTP is its simplicity. It is a simple and efficient protocol that is easy to implement and understand. Additionally, because it is stateless, it is also highly scalable. However, its lack of security features makes it unsuitable for transmitting sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data.
HTTPS is an extension of HTTP that was created to address the security shortcomings of HTTP. It uses the same basic structure as HTTP, but it encrypts the data being transmitted to prevent unauthorized access. HTTPS operates on the Transport Layer of the Internet Protocol Suite and uses the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) or Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocols to encrypt the data being transmitted.
The process of encrypting data in HTTPS is referred to as SSL/TLS negotiation. During this process, the client and server establish a secure connection by agreeing on an encryption algorithm and exchanging encryption keys. Once the secure connection has been established, all data transmitted between the client and server is encrypted, making it much more difficult for third parties to access the data.
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One of the key benefits of using HTTPS is that it provides a higher level of security for the data being transmitted. This makes it suitable for transmitting sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data. Additionally, because it uses encryption, it also helps to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks, where a third party attempts to intercept the data being transmitted between a client and a server.
Another benefit of using HTTPS is that it provides a degree of authenticity for the server that the client is connecting to. This is because the SSL/TLS certificate used in HTTPS includes information about the server’s identity, such as its domain name and public key. This information is verified by a trusted third party (such as a certificate authority) to ensure that the client is connecting to the server it intends to connect to.
Reasons for Using HTTP or HTTPS
One of the main reasons for using HTTP over HTTPS is speed. Because HTTPS adds an additional layer of encryption, it can slow down the speed of data transfer. This is particularly noticeable on sites with large amounts of data, such as streaming sites or online stores. In these cases, the additional speed of HTTP can make a noticeable difference in the user experience.
However, the primary reason for using HTTPS is security. In most cases, it is recommended to use HTTPS for any site that requires a user to provide sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data. Additionally, many web browsers now display a warning when a user visits an unsecured site (i.e., a site using HTTP), which can negatively impact the user’s experience and decrease trust as well.
Now that you know the technical difference between HTTP and HTTPS I believe it would be appropriate to put this knowledge into practice whenever needed. From my perspective, I would always prefer HTTPS over HTTP no matter what because the connection is secure. And not prone to hacks.
I am a 31-year-old dude from a lower-middle-class family hailing from a small village Narasinghpur in Cuttack, Odisha, INDIA. I have a post-graduate degree in M.Tech from BITS Pilani. I started blogging back in June 2014. You can check out my journey and all that I have learnt all these years on my website.