Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

You may have seen http:// or https:// before a domain name in a browser's URL bar while surfing the Internet. And, you might be wondering - what is the difference between HTTP and HTTPS in general?

Difference Between HTTP and HTTPS

In this article, we have discussed the major differences that will give you a better understanding of HTTP vs. HTTPS. Before discussing the differences, let's understand exactly what HTTP and HTTPS are:

HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol)

HTTP is a networking protocol used for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web (WWW); it means that it transfers the data (i.e., text, images, audio, video, etc.) on WWW.

Advantages of HTTP

The following are the advantages of HTTP:

We can implement HTTP along with other protocols on the Internet, or even with other networks.

HTTP based webpages are saved on computer and Internet caches, making it quickly accessible.

HTTP is platform-independent and so it supports cross-platform porting.

HTTP does not require runtime-support.

HTTP can be used over firewalls, which makes its applications globally accessible.

Because HTTP is not connection-oriented, thereby no network overhead while creating and maintaining session state and information.

HTTPS (HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure)

HTTPS is an encrypted version of HTTP. It is not actually the opposite of HTTP. Instead, it is an improved version of HTTP. HTTPS uses a combination of Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This establishes a secure encrypted connection between the host server and the browser.

Advantages of HTTPS

The following are the disadvantages of HTTPS:

Most sites with HTTPS work with redirect mechanisms. This means that even if we try to access any page over HTTP, it will be redirected to HTTPS over a secure connection. The redirection process for HTTPS enhances website security.

When entering details into an online transaction gateway, HTTPS protects users' sensitive information (e.g., card details and other personal information). This helps perform online transactions without risks.

HTTPS uses SSL technology and implements additional security on the website, which helps build users' trust.

An independent authority validates the identity of the owner of the certificate. This means that each SSL certificate contains the unique, authentic information of the certificate owner.

HTTPS is good for SEO (search engine optimization). Google generally prioritizes HTTPS-based webpages in SERP (search engine result page) rankings.

Note: Previously, HTTPS was only used by sites that have an online payment option. This helped secure the credit/debit card details. However, in 2014, Google recommended sites to use HTTPS to achieve better search engine rankings. And after that, most sites switched to HTTPS. Nowadays, many websites prefer HTTPS.


HTTP vs HTTPS: Key Differences

Let’s discuss some major differences between HTTP and HTTPS:

HTTP does not include any security certificate to encrypt the data. In contrast, HTTPS includes TLS and SSL digital certificates that help secure communication between client and server.

HTTP transmits the data in plain text, whereas HTTPS encrypts the data and transmits it in encrypted form.

HTTP does not need any kind of domain validation. However, HTTPS requires domain validation and even check legal documents of authentication or ownership.

HTTP operates at the application layer. HTTPS, on the other side, operates at the transport layer.

HTTP, by default, uses port 80, whereas HTTPS uses port 443.

HTTP is comparatively faster than HTTPS because HTTPS consumes more computing power and resources to encrypt the communication channel.

Difference between HTTP and HTTPS

In general, HTTP and HTTPS are protocols. Using these protocols, a particular web site's information is exchanged between the host server and the web browser. The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that HTTPS is a lot more secure than HTTP.

Now, let's learn more about the difference between HTTP and HTTPS in tabular form:

It stands for ‘HyperText Transfer Protocol’. It stands for ‘HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure’. An additional 'S' has been added to the abbreviation to specify 'security'.
HTTP is defined as the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web. HTTPS is nothing but HTTP working with additional security certificates, which makes the transfer of data somehow secure on the Internet.
Data over HTTP is not secure. Data is vulnerable to hackers and cyber attackers. Data over HTTPS is secure. It is designed to prevent hackers from accessing your critical information.
The default port number is 80, for communication. Here, the default port number is 443.
In URLs, http:// is used before the domain name. In URLs, https:// is used before the domain name.
HTTP works at the application layer. HTTPS works at the transport layer.
It operates at TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)/ IP (Internet Protocol) level. It does not have a separate protocol. It runs over HTTP but uses TLS/SSL encrypted connection.
HTTP websites do not require any kind of certificate to verify websites’ identity. HTTPS websites require SSL certificates to verify websites’ identity.
No encryption is present in HTTP websites. Both encryption and decryption exist on HTTPS websites.
HTTP has the risk of attacks like man-in-middle and eavesdropping, etc. There is no such risk of attacks in HTTPS.
In HTTP, website speed is fast. In HTTPS, website speed is slower due to redirects and data encryption. However, you can create accelerated mobile pages (AMP) with HTTPS that will boost website speed for smartphones and tablet users.
HTTP does not help in search engine optimization. HTTPS helps in search engine optimization.
It is more suitable for websites designed for information consumption, such as a personal blog. It is a good fit for websites that collect critical data such as credit /debit card details, personal information, etc.

What is the main difference between HTTP and HTTPS?

The main difference between HTTP and HTTPS is the presence of SSL certificates in HTTPS, whereas HTTP does not. In general, HTTPS is an HTTP protocol by itself, but with an additional security certificate. These security certificates are essential for some websites, specifically those asking users to input sensitive data. For example websites with login credentials, payment gateways, etc. 

The SSL certificate usually encrypts the information entered by the users and converts it into some kind of secure code. This prevents hackers or whoever is tracking the transmission from stealing the actual information that users have entered. In addition to SSL, HTTPS also has a TLS protocol that helps to incorporate data integrity. This ultimately prevents non-authorized people from modifying or corrupting the actual data, allowing users to communicate only with the intended website.

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Types of SSL/TLS certificates used with HTTPS

There are five main types of certificates used with HTTPS:

Domain Validation: Domain validation usually validates the person's authentication. This ensures whether the person applying for the certificate owns the domain. This validation can take from a few minutes to several hours. 

Organization Validation: The organization validation, or certification authority, not only validates the ownership of the domain but also identifies the owners. This means that an owner may be asked to provide personal ID proof documents to prove his or her identity. 

Extended Validation: Extended validation is known as the top-most level of validation. This includes domain ownership, owner identification, and verification of business registration documents.

Wildcard: Wildcard certificate is best suited to protect all of the first-level subdomains, such as blog.domain.com or offer.domain.com. Along with the above validations, wildcard protects several subdomains for a website.

Multi-Domain: Multi-domain SSL certificate is beneficial for protecting multiple domains. For example, if we have multiple domains to protect, we can purchase this type of certificate, which will ultimately save some of the cost of certificate purchase for any individual domain.

Which is better, HTTP or HTTPS?

When figuring out which of the HTTP and HTTPS is better, HTTPS clearly has many advantages, which makes it better somehow. In fact- Who doesn't want their site to be as safe as possible? Who doesn't want to build users' trust? 

The thing is, HTTPS is a necessity when it comes to accepting sensitive information from users. The following are some other ways that make HTTPS better over HTTP:

Increased website rankings as HTTPS matters to SEO
Eligibility for creating AMP pages for the website
Eligibility to implement web push notifications service
Eligibility for creating progressive web apps (PWA), which help convert website as play store mobile app on Android
Eligibility to implement GetUserMedia, which allows users to use a camera and microphone on the site

Although HTTPS is better in many segments, it also has some limitations. Let's understand the limitations of HTTP and HTTPS:

Limitations of HTTP

The following are the limitations of HTTP:

HTTP does not have any privacy and anyone tracking the transmission can see the information sent over it.
Data integrity is a serious concern because hackers can modify the information transmitted over HTTP. That is the reason HTTP protocol is considered an insecure method having no encryption methods.
Users cannot be sure about who they are communicating with. Anyone intercepting the request method can steal the username and password.

Limitations of HTTPS

The following are limitations of HTTPS:

The HTTPS protocol is not strong enough to prevent hackers from stealing information from cached pages on the browser.
SSL data is encrypted only when it is being transmitted over the network; however, the text stored in the browser's memory cannot be erased.
HTTPS can sometimes cause increased computational overhead and network overhead for any organization.

Things to know before switching from HTTP to HTTPS

Although there are several advantages of using HTTPS over HTTP, there are certain issues if we don’t follow the proper procedure for switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Typically there are following four steps in the process:

Obtaining an SSL certificate from a trusted Certificate Authority
Installing on website’s hosting account
Configuring 301 redirects by altering the .htaccess file present in the root folder 
Update robots.txt file and notify search engines 

Although the above process seems straightforward, it is a bit tricky. Many hosting companies nowadays provide configuration of SSL certificates as part of their services, which may be a better option. However, there are additional costs. The following are some things to implement when switching to HTTPS:

Inform Google about switching from HTTP to HTTPS
Use relative URLs for any resources
Ensure that the HTTPS site accessible through robots.txt so that Google can crawl HTTPS based website
Keep tracking changes before migration and after migration from HTTP to HTTPS


We have covered almost everything to explain the difference between HTTP and HTTPS and we hope that you can now easily find out if a website is running over HTTP or HTTPS. 

If you are planning to launch a new website, it is better to use HTTPS. If you already have a site with HTTP, you can easily switch to HTTPS. Make sure that you follow the proper guidelines to avoid the mistakes of migration that most people make. This will provide you with a base level of website security and will also boost your search engine ranking.

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