In your opinion, what is one of the most important things that make users trust a website?
It can be said that the user-friendliness of the site and the provision of suitable content are very important factors. But besides these things, users want to feel safe while browsing on websites. Especially when it comes to online shopping, where users have to provide bank card information and address and phone number, etc., it sometimes causes inconvenience. Users like to feel confident that they are sharing their information safely.
Do you know that 68% of Internet users believe that the current laws are not effective enough to protect their rights?
As webmasters, we can provide secure websites, we just need a special certificate that confirms that visitors’ information is protected.
The Internet works through different protocols. In this article we will talk about two important protocols: HTTP and HTTPS.
Before we get into a deeper understanding of the HTTP and HTTPS protocol, we must first understand what the protocol is.
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What is the protocol?
A protocol is a set of rules that we use to achieve certain goals.
For example, you can think of the protocol as a specific language. Every language has its own rules and vocabulary. If two people have a common language, they can communicate effectively.
Similar to the example above, if computers (or other devices) want to communicate with each other, they must follow a certain set of predefined communication rules.
Currently, in the web environment, various protocols are used to communicate. But we can safely say that the most important of these protocols are HTTP and HTTPS.
What is HTTP?
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In simple words, HTTP means rules for sending and receiving text messages. The HTTP protocol relies on the Internet’s Transmission Control Protocol or TCP and is used to transfer data requested by the user from the server. This has made the HTTP protocol one of the most basic protocols of the Internet. Using this protocol, users can access any type of data, including images, text, and audio, through the Internet.
When a user (known as a “client” in networking parlance) types a website’s domain name into their browser’s address bar and presses “enter,” the browser makes an HTTP request, which sends to the server of that site. After receiving the request, the server searches for the web page requested by the user and sends the desired web page to the client as an HTTP response.
When the client or user receives the desired web page and all its content, the connection with the server is terminated. If the user wants to request a new web page, a new connection is established again.
Information security in the HTTP protocol
The biggest problem with websites that use the HTTP protocol is that they are not secure. This means that the data is not encrypted and is transmitted in plain text.
When using an HTTP site, your data can be hacked, stolen or manipulated by attackers. Not long ago, many websites used the HTTP protocol and only changed the protocol to HTTPS on the payment page. But today, this situation is changing and websites are using HTTPS protocol on all their pages.
How do browsers behave against HTTP?
A website that uses the HTTP protocol will not display well in browsers. Browsers do not like websites that use this insecure protocol. In fact, they specifically warn users when websites are unsafe by publishing scary messages and warning icons.
For example, the image below shows how Google Chrome marks an HTTP site as “Not secure”.
Now, as the owner of a website, put yourself in the shoes of the users. Does seeing such a warning message give you confidence that this website is a safe place to buy or share any kind of personal data? Probably not!
This can cost your business and drive your customers straight into the arms of your competitors who have secure websites!
But do not worry. In the following, we will tell the ways to secure the HTTP protocol. But before that, it is necessary to talk a little about the HTTPS protocol.
What is the HTTPS protocol?
The HTTPS protocol is basically the same as HTTP, but with one major difference: security.
The letter “S” at the end of HTTPS stands for “Secure”. This means that all communication between your browser and the website is encrypted. In fact, HTTPS is the secure version of HTTP for confidential and private sharing of sensitive user data. HTTPS is often used to protect highly confidential online transactions such as online banking and online shopping order forms.
If your website uses the HTTPS protocol, a different type of communication is established between the server and the client.
While HTTP transfers all data over an open Internet connection, in HTTPS a secure connection is established between the server and the client.
The HTTPS protocol also adds a unique identifier to your website in the form of a lock symbol, indicating to the user that your site uses the secure HTTPS protocol.
What is a secure connection?
A connection in which all data and communications are encrypted before transmission is called a secure connection. So no one can see the data packets being sent by stealing them.
For example, if your site is loaded via the HTTPS protocol, when a user enters a username and password on your site’s login page, the data (user login information) is stored by the browser using a public key. (Public key) is encrypted. This encrypted information is then sent to the server. This data can only be decrypted by the server using a private key. No one else, including Internet Service Providers (ISPs), can access the transmitted data. Because they don’t have the private key needed to decrypt this data.
Difference between HTTP and HTTPS
In this section, the differences between HTTP and HTTPS protocols are mentioned:
One of the main differences between HTTP and HTTPS protocols is the SSL certificate. As we said, the HTTPS protocol is an extended version of the HTTP protocol with security features.
This security feature is especially important for websites that transmit sensitive information such as credit card information.
HTTPS protocol is secure because it has SSL protocol. The SSL protocol encrypts the data that the client transmits to the server. If someone tries to steal the data that is being transferred between the client and the server, they will not be able to read the data because they do not have access to the private key. Whereas if the HTTP protocol is used, it will be very easy for hackers to read this information due to access to the public key.
Browsers must verify that the user, device, or website they are facing is who they claim to be. For this reason, the HTTPS protocol relies on authentication. But the original HTTP protocol is only based on trust.
Web pages that use HTTP load faster than web pages on HTTPS domains. This is because HTTPS requires more computing power to encrypt messages.
Port number port number
HTTP sends data through port 80, while HTTPS sends data through port 443. HTTP works only in the application layer, but HTTPS works in the transport layer and uses PKI technologies. This is why we say HTTPS is secure.
What do we need to enable the HTTPS protocol?
As we mentioned in the previous section, enabling the HTTPS protocol requires the use of a valid SSL certificate. This digital certificate is a file that contains information about your organization to help authenticate it and other useful cryptographic information that helps users of the site communicate with it securely through encryption.
SSL certificates have different types of validation to suit your needs.
This method only requires the site owner to prove that he owns the domain. This is the lowest level of verification and is best for sites that do not collect user information or require users to log in to the site.
This level of validation is more severe than the previous method. Enterprise authentication is great for websites that want to verify their identity and keep data secure.
This method is the most severe type of validation and requires the highest level of verification by the certificate issuer. As a result, your organization’s information will be more visible. This method is suitable for websites that collect sensitive user information and need to protect it.
So, to summarize, before the data transfer between the server and the client begins, they must first exchange information and keys in a process called SSL. This process leads to the creation of another key (session key) which the two parties secretly decide on. This key is what prepares the server and the client to establish a secure and encrypted connection.
Advantages of using the HTTPS protocol
Websites that use HTTPS have the following benefits:
Prevent attacks on the site
Authentication prevents some hacking attacks. Among these attacks, man-in-the-middle attacks and domain spoofing can be mentioned. A man-in-the-middle attack occurs when a hacker places himself between two devices (probably a browser and a web server) and intercepts the communication between these devices.
Domain spoofing is when a hacker creates a page that looks like a legitimate website. Either way, the hacker wants to steal sensitive information.
Gaining the trust of users
Many users check the URL bars in their browsers to see if there is a green lock. This indicates that their sensitive information will be safe when they enter this information in forms on the website. Most users will not buy from your website if they see “HTTP” and “Not Secure” warning on their page. This message on your site shows that you do not care about the security of your users’ data!
As the name suggests, HTTPS is much more secure than HTTP. An SSL certificate helps you protect data in transit between the website and the client. As data moves across the Internet, it may be decrypted on multiple servers before reaching its final destination. That’s a lot of opportunities for cybercriminals to prey on.
Also, using a certificate that verifies your identity gives users confidence that they can trust the security of data on your site. In addition, using the HTTPS protocol protects your site from phishing.
Improving the search engine ranking and SEO of the site
Search engine ranking and SEO are very important for any website. When a visitor types their query into a search engine, the search engine ranks and displays websites using various factors. Google has announced that websites that use the HTTPS protocol will rank better on the results page.
According to Search Engine Journal, the first three organic results in Google search have the highest click-through rate. This amount is 5.28% for the first result in Google and 15% and 11% for the second and third results, respectively, and it decreases to 2.5% for the tenth result.
Therefore, you should do everything you can to improve your search engine rankings. As a result, having an SSL and HTTPS certificate is the first step you can take to secure your site and improve your ranking in Google results.
How to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS
Switching between HTTP and HTTPS is not difficult. All you need to do is buy an SSL certificate from any company and install it properly on your server.
Today, many companies sell affordable SSL certificates. To know the names of these companies, just search on Google. Today, almost all companies providing hosting services have SSL certificates in their packages. But there are other companies from which you can obtain an SSL certificate using foreign exchange services.
To activate the SSL certificate, you need to go through the following steps:
Create a Certificate Signing Request: First, you need to create a Certificate Signing Request (CSR) for your domain. This can be done from your hosting dashboard or control panels.
Purchase a certificate: In the next step, you need to go to the website of the certification authority or the company that sells SSL certificates. After creating an account on the company’s website, you should send your CSR to them. Then, the certificate along with its keys will be issued to you.
Installing certificates on the host: The next step is to install the certificate on the server. You can import certificates using the control panel provided by the host.
Perform 301 redirect: The last step is to perform a 301 redirect from the HTTP version of your site to the HTTPS version. By doing this, all your users will be directed to the page containing the HTTPS protocol and will access your site through a secure connection.