HTTP vs HTTPS: Understand the differences
HTTP stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. It is an application layer protocol governing the flow of information on the World Wide Web. This article will explain the difference between HTTP vs HTTPs. HTTP works on the client-server model. A web browser is the client and makes requests to a web server. Basically, HTTP is a TCP/IP based communication protocol used for encoding and transporting information between client and server. Both HTTP and HTTPS are stateless protocols because it executes each command independently without retaining the information from previous sessions.
What is Cryptography?
Cryptography refers to the process of converting ordinary plain text into a coded form. This is done to protect the information from any kind of theft or alterations. It involves storing and transmitting data in an encrypted form so that it can only be read and processed by the intended persons. When we compare HTTP vs HTTPS, it’s important to know about the cryptography.
How an HTTPs server works
HTTPS is a secured version of the HTTP protocol. It establishes a secure communication link between the browser and server by encrypting the data. The HTTPS protocol pairs with TLS (transport layer security). It guarantees data privacy for the end-user. Considering the comparison HTTP vs HTTPS, the HTTPS method is safest.
HTTPS server basically works according to the process of handshake for setting up a secure connection.
Whenever your browser connects to the HTTPS server, the server acknowledges with its certificate. After this browser carries out a check for verifying the validity of the certificate. The certificate is valid only if:
the owner information matches with the server name that the user requested for.
the certificate is signed by a legitimate certification authority.
If any of these conditions fail, the user receives a warning about the problem.
When HTTPS is used, a series of handshakes take place. Firstly, the initial step involves sending a request to the server for verification. If it is the desired one where information is destined to reach it responds back by sending an acknowledgement message. Thus after verification of authentic destination client sends a hello message. After this information becomes encrypted and is exchanged via the use of encryption keys or cyphers.
The difference between HTTP vs HTTPs
HTTP is a set of protocols governing how any information can be transmitted on the World Wide Web. It defines a set of standard rules for web browsers & servers to communicate. It is an application layer protocol working on TCP/IP. It’s much riskier to intercept data transferred using HTTP rather than HTTPS. It happens because of the lack of data encryption. HTTP server works over port 80.
Whereas on the other hand its extension and advanced version, HTTPS is fully secure. HTTPS works in conjunction with SSL/TLS protocols, thereby protecting the information from theft or changes. An HTTPS server works over port 443.
What is an SSL certificate?
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate, also known as Digital certificate is used for establishing secure and encrypted communication between a website and an internet browser. It works by creating a secure link between a website and a visitor’s browser. A few years ago, SSL certificates were only most common on a few websites. At that time, only sites where users provided personal data, credit card information or private data. Nowadays, the whole internet is changing. Most of the sites now have SSL certificates and works over HTTPS. Comparing HTTP vs HTTPS, the HTTP has no SSL certificate. So, HTTP is the non-secure method.
HTTP vs HTTPS Ports
Both HTTP and HTTPS servers can run on customized ports. By default, HTTP uses port 80 and HTTPS uses port 443. Some specific webservers can run run on port 8080, depending on the application.
HTTP vs HTTPS performance
There is a very slight performance impact if comparing both protocols. HTTP tends to be slightly faster than HTTPS. Thus, in nowadays broadbands, this isn’t sensible. HTTP’s performance is slightly better than HTTPS because each TCP packet transmits fewer bits, as HTTPS needs to carry encryption data.
TLS vs SSL
TLS is the successor of SSL. SSL means “Secure Socket Layer”, while TLS means “Transport Layer Securty”. TLS is more used in emails, and SSL is the default protocol for web servers (HTTPS).
Similarities between TLS and SSL:
- Both have negotiation between the pairs
- They are based on certificates to authenticate the communication
- Symmetric cypher based traffic encryption
- TLS has the capability of working with different ports
- TLS uses stronger encryption algorithms like HMAC.
- SSL uses only MAC based algorithm (weaker).
HTTPS and SEO on Google
It’s a tendency to have all the internet running over secure servers. Within the Google algorithm update on April 16th of 2017, Google is valuing much more HTTPS sites nowadays. In other words, it’s very difficult to get good rankings with an HTTP website.
In version 68 of Google Chrome, it warns as risky all the non-secure websites and shows a broken lock icon to the customers. If you compare HTTP vs HTTPS, Google will prioritize HTTPS secure websites.
What kinds of cryptographies are available and their differences
Basically, there are two main types of cryptographic algorithms based on the number of keys employed for encryption and decryption. They are
1. The secret key (symmetric cryptography)
2. Public Key (asymmetric cryptography)
Secret key cryptography
Secret key cryptography methods make use of a single key for both encryption and decryption process. The same key is used by the user for encrypting a plain text and sending a ciphertext to the receiver. Thus this key is shared within all the parties involved in the communication. Because of the use of a single key, this process’ name is symmetric cryptography.
Symmetric key algorithms are computationally less intensive and are easy to carry out.
Symmetric key algorithms are faster than the asymmetric ones.
This method is best if you use encryption for messages or files which you alone intend to access, thus there is no need to create different keys.
Public Key Cryptography
Whereas the Public Key cryptography methods make use of two dissimilar but mathematically related keys. Unlike, to Secret key method, here each key performs a unique function. In this method anyone can encrypt the message but, but only the holder of the paired private key can decrypt it.
This method is more secure than a password because anyone who tries to access data needs to obtain both the private key and the corresponding passphrase to authenticate.
Provides stronger identity-checking through secret private keys.
Provides the facility of non-interactive login.
It solves the problem of distributing the key for encryption. Everyone publishes their public keys and private keys remain hidden.
Allows detection of message alterations by using digital signatures.
Advantages and disadvantages of HTTP and HTTPS
Advantages of HTTPS over HTTP:
- Data security and privacy
- Google loves HTTPS and will rank it higher
- Nowadays there are cheap web hosting plans with free SSL certificates available.
Advantages of HTTP over HTTPS:
- It’s a cheaper protocol, as you don’t need to invest in certificates.
- It’s slightly faster, as it transfers fewer bits.
- Easier to configure at home, in a domestic server for example.
The HTTPS protocol itself doesn’t have vulnerabilities, but applications supporting HTTPS may have. We recommend keeping every software always updated, as soon as possible. For example, mod_ssl have some compromised versions, which had to be updated to be fixed. A list of vulnerabilities of SSL applications can be found at SecurityFocus.
The difference between HTTP vs HTTPS only happens in server-side communication. There is no change in the URL and the domain names.