While surfing online, you might have noticed a common theme among your URLs. They start with either HTTP or HTTPS.
But what is HTTP, and what is HTTPS? And which one is best for your online security? Worry not; you’re in the right place to learn all about them.
HTTPS: the 101 on secure connections
Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP.
Ok, that was quite a bit. Let’s backtrack.
Hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) is the primary protocol used to send data between your web browser and a website. It’s the foundation of data communication on the world wide web as we know it.
The S in HTTPS is the indicator that your connection has encryption to increase this data transfer’s security.
If a website doesn’t have the prefix of HTTPS, it’s a clear sign that your data can easily be hijacked and read. This is problematic when you log in to a bank account, payment provider, or email service, as it can easily compromise your accounts.
This is how HTTPS works:
In the HTTP vs. HTTPS department, this is what we have.
Modern web browsers mark websites that do not use HTTPS by displaying a “not secure” warning near the URL.
So, to protect your online data, you should avoid HTTP sites as much as you possibly can. And if a site does not have HTTPS, never enter your personal information.
HTTPS encryption: the details
HTTPS includes authentication via the SSL/TLS protocol.
SSL certificates are small data files that cryptographically establish an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remain private.
This is done by generating a pair of public and private keys.
In cryptography, this means that it’s possible to use the public key to encrypt a message that can only be decrypted with the private key.
When you visit an HTTPS website, you can be assured of the:
- Authenticity. The server presenting the certificate is in possession of the private key that matches the public key in the certificate.
- Integrity. The web pages have not been altered by a Man-in-the-Middle attack.
- Encryption. Communications between your browser and website are encrypted.
Is HTTPS safe enough?
The short answer is no.
Sure, having that bit of encryption is better than having your connection in the open. But in this digital age, where online threats are complex and rely on a mix of social engineering, vulnerability, and poor cybersecurity practices, HTTPS is not enough.
If you want to increase your online security, consider looking into a VPN.
Short for a virtual private network, a VPN is an easy and secure way of accessing the internet.
VPNs establish a virtual point-to-point connection between your device and the internet, sending your data through an encrypted tunnel.
As opposed to HTTPS, though, a VPN employs more robust encryption protocols. It also gives you extra benefits by hiding your IP address, unblocking websites and apps, and protecting your entire device, not just your browser.
And VPNs do a much better job at protecting your data than HTTPS. That’s because whenever you visit a website, you’re tracked through your IP address by cookies. They leave crumbs behind and weave an accurate picture of your online activity from website to website.
Also, many online services you use, like social media, search engines, and even apps, are programmed to collect as much data as possible on you.
So, it’s essential to protect your whole online identity and secure all your gadgets, not just your browser. And using VPN software alongside HTTPS is the best combo to maintain your digital confidentiality.
Until next time, stay safe and secure!