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What is HTTPS? Its meaning, what it does, and how it works

What is HTTPS? Learn it here, along with everything you need to use it.

You can use many tools to protect the personal data of your website’s visitors against hackers. The one you’re likely to come across most often is the HTTPS encryption protocol. You’ll learn all about it in this article.

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Brief Summary

Glossary

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a way of securely sending information between a website and a browser. It encrypts the data so that it can’t be intercepted by anyone who shouldn’t have access to it. You’ll often see it in the address bar of modern websites.

What is HTTPS?

HTTPS is a website security measure. Its meaning is “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure.” It allows you to send data to online pages while keeping hackers from stealing it. Your browser tells you if a page uses HTTPS. For example, the Google Chrome browser displays a padlock.

The padlock is like a certificate proving the web page is secure. You can use another method to check if websites are safe. You can double-click the bar on the Google Chrome browser where you type the page’s URL. Check if it shows you “HTTPS” before the domain name, as below:

Pro-tip: When confident that your websites are secure, include a seal on your web page to let your customers know about their security. Some of them may miss the padlock, so be sure they know they can trust you. Doing so may increase sales as your page will seem more reputable.

These features go beyond Google Chrome. Most web browsers have them. So, ensure your websites use HTTPS. If visitors realize that it’s missing, they may go elsewhere. Also, it’s best to protect yourself from problems associated with leaks. Most businesses agree on this topic.

A 2022 study from the British government shows that 82% of companies rank cybersecurity as a high priority. If you agree, using a website builder and a trustworthy domain host guarantees your pages are secure. Now that you know what HTTPS is, it’s time to learn what it does.

What does HTTPS do?

HTTPS changes the information you send to websites, so only people with access to a key can see it in its original form. This process has a name: data encryption. Its goal is to stop third parties on the web from reading your information. The next topic explains this protocol further.

How does HTTPS work?

HTTPS uses Transport Layer Security (TLS) for data encryption. It’s a security measure that creates two virtual keys. One is public. The other is private, and when you have both, you can access the data in its original form. So, it’s like a two-factor authentication system.

Each key strengthens data security, as it’s unlikely that someone would obtain both. So, using such a key is critical regarding tips to secure your website. But, as you research this topic, another question may appear. After all, asking what’s HTTPS is only the beginning.

What is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is security. You can use both to send information between yourself and a page. But HTTPS is a safer protocol. It stands for HTTP Secure and gets this name for using Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt website data.

There’s another crucial distinction between these two security protocols, thanks to TLS. A website’s owner with an HTTPS proxy can also use a private key to verify that they’re its rightful proprietor. This measure prevents people from accessing the website’s systems unauthorized.

Is SSL HTTPS?

The answer is no. HTTPS is a group of tools that enable you to share information with a website. Each has its job. SSL is one of them. It’s responsible for security, encrypting the data you send to the web, and ensuring it’s secure. In this regard, it’s similar to a firewall.

Pro-tip: you can have multiple certificates, one for each site you own. But you need to acquire these web certificates individually. Having them can also make you rank better on Google.

You can also use SSL to generate an SSL certificate. It’s an e-certificate proving your website ownership and contains the public key and other info. You can request it from a certificate authority or issue one yourself, which may seem more straightforward but has a caveat.

Self-signed SSL certificates have less authority. Therefore, even if your website has an SSL certificate, a browser like Google Chrome may still mark it as unsafe. In the next topic, you’ll learn how to make your site have a certificate and be trustworthy properly.

How to properly enable HTTPS on your server

Now that you know what HTTPS is, what it does, and how it works, it’s time to learn how to use it. Enabling your website to use HTTPS may sound daunting, but it’s easy. You only need to follow these steps:

  1. Use a dedicated IP address on your site.
  2. Obtain an SSL certificate.
  3. Install your SSL certificates.
  4. Update your server to include HTTPS.

Read more: if you want a complete step-by-step guide on properly enabling HTTPS on your server, read the article How to Secure Your Website with HTTPS. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about using an SSL certificate to ensure your site is secure.

Do you want to save time? Use a service provider that gives you the right tools to enable HTTPS on your page via your browser properly. After all, understanding what HTTPS is and using it is crucial, so read below an answer to a question you may have come across online.

What port is HTTPS?

HTTPS is port 443. It secures network traffic packets before you send them to a website. It uses an encryption protocol that encrypts the information exchanged between yourself and a website’s server. Using a website builder should allow you to use port 443 by default.

Now you have the answer but may have another question. What are ports? Think of them as a place where virtual connections start and end. Each port has a specific purpose. The default port, Port 443, secures your network, where you establish an HTTPS connection.

After reading these explanations, perhaps you may be considering taking a chance. Suppose you wish to launch your website without an HTTPS proxy. How bad can that be? The next topic details why such a decision could be disastrous.

What happens if a website doesn’t use HTTPS?

People can steal a website’s data. This situation is problematic for web pages holding private information, like if you want to create an online shop. Hackers could steal bank information from your clients, for instance. They can use this information maliciously for:

  • Identity theft.
  • Insurance fraud.
  • Loan fraud.
  • And other types of crimes.

Less damaging but still concerning, they could gather info and use it to develop a browser fingerprint. It’s a model of someone’s online behavioural pattern on websites like Google, which criminals can store on a server and sell. HTTPS, TLS, and SSL certificates matter.

These issues are damaging to your customers and also to yourself. Your reputation will suffer, and you may have to answer legally for mishandling people’s private data. It’s better to be safe than sorry. After all, not all dangers on the web are as evident as email threats.

According to a 2022 report from the British Office for National Statistics, cyber crimes are increasing. Ensuring your web page has an SSL certificate to enable the HTTPS protocol is paramount. Save some space in your server for it.

Summary: what is HTTPS

Web security is more than thinking about how to create a secure password. Knowing what HTTPS is, is key to your success, and now you know vital information about the topic. Here’s a summary of what you’ve learned:

  • What is HTTPS? It secures the data entered on an online page. It uses SSL and TLS
  • What it does: it encrypts the data exchanged between you and a server.
  • How it works: it requires a public and a private key to decrypt information.
  • What if a website doesn’t have it? It becomes vulnerable to data leaks.

Now you know. But knowing what HTTPS, TLS, and an SSL certificate are, is only the tip of this web iceberg. You can take many other security measures to ensure that you’re offering a safe browsing experience to your web visitors while protecting your server.

If you want to stay updated on HTTPS, TLS, SSL, and other topics check out other content in the one.com Academy. It contains hundreds of pieces that will help you secure your website’s success once it hits the web.