The binomial HTTP & HTTPS is very well-known and the difference between the two acronyms is a crucial factor in IT security. The term HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol) refers to an application protocol which for many years now has been used as the principal method of information transmission on the web.
The above-mentioned protocol works using a client – server architecture: each time the client makes a specific request, the server provides the answer. In this case, the client corresponds to the browser. The server on the other hand, to the device used to host the website.
The major difference between the HTTP protocol and other level 7 protocols lies in its connections, which are concluded once an individual request or several related requests have been dealt with by the server.
The HTTP protocol is therefore perfectly suited to the internet, considering that web pages feature a large number of links, thereby making the workload considerably lighter for both client and server.
What is meant by HTTPS?
The acronym HTTPS, on the other hand, stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Over Secure Socket Layer, which provides a higher level of security compared to that of HTTP. The main idea is to protect the privacy of user communications via cryptography, which was not possible using the HTTP protocol alone.
At present, the HTTPS protocol is compulsory in all those web environments where confidential information is requested, such as users’ credit card numbers and other personal or sensitive details.
In the HTTPS scenario, communication takes place between the server powering the website, the final user and the Certificate Authority (CA). In cryptography, this term indicates a trusted third party – whether public or private – authorised to release digital certificates using procedures in conformance with international regulations.
Thanks to these measures, it is possible to prevent and avoid so-called ‘Man in the Middle attacks’, which involve the interception of communications between the two interlocutors. The interaction is protected by encoding, which is put in place by the SSL/TLS protocol (two different protocols which work together, the second being a progression of the first).
HTTP and HTTPS: the advantages of migration
When the binomial HTTP & HTTPS is mentioned, it is usually to highlight the advantages of migration, now considered a must by Google (2017 was the year when the Big G imposed the adoption of the second protocol on all websites).
The first step towards migration, which is fundamental to the positioning of the site and data security, is the request for an SSL/TLS certificate for the domain. If the site uses the company’s own server, the Apache settings can be managed autonomously.
If the server is connected to an external hosting service, a certificate can be requested directly from the service provider. In that case, the cost of this must be taken into account, which varies according to the provider.
It is important to remember that a major CMS such as WordPress supplies an ad hoc plug-in for migration, which allows users to bypass potential difficulties regarding code management.
Once the preferred method has been chosen and migration has been carried out, a sitemap must be sent to Google and Bing. Once this process has been concluded, you will have a site with private connection, cryptography with asymmetrical key, server certification and hashing algorithms to verify the authenticity of information: advantages which make becoming more familiar with the binomial HTTP & HTTPS essential.
Translated by Joanne Beckwith