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What is HTTPS and SSL? How they can benefit your website?

What is HTTP and HTTPS?

HTTP (or, http://) and HTTPS (https://) are both strings which appear at the start of any URL, showcasing an important difference in all those web pages you visit on a daily basis. If you are not familiar with these 2 words, no worries! We will explain you in simple words what they are, what is the difference between them and which one you should use.

HTTP and HTTPS are both encryption protocols.

HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) was something invented by Tim Berners Lee in 1989 at CERN when he created the WWW (he didn’t do it from scratch and built on the ideas of others before him, but he created the version we now all use).

It is a protocol (hence the P in the name) originally designed to transfer (the T) a certain sort of file called a HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) file (which is where we get the HT from).

This means it was meant as a protocol (a set of rules) to transfer websites from one computer to another.

There were other protocols with more generic applications before that like FTP (File Transfer Protocol) but HTTP was especially designed for websites to show information to their visitors.

The way we use it today is to have a web browser (like the one you are using right now to view this website) communicate with a web server and transfer files (like the website you are viewing right now) from the server to the browser so you can view it on your computer/phone/.

The HTTP is used to send the website from the server to your computer.

It can also be used to transfer other types of files but websites is what it was built for and is mostly used for.

The original HTTP had a big problem though. Everything that was transferred with it was transferred openly over the net in plain text.

Think of it as writing something on the back of a post card. the mailman and everyone else who handles the postcard as it is send to you can see exactly who is sending what message to who.

If you value your privacy you might prefer sending a letter in an envelope instead of a postcard.

This is basically what HTTPS is to HTTP.

Once the web got started people realized that it might not be a smart idea to send things like credit card numbers or passwords openly around the net in ways everyone could see.

So a variation of the HTTP was born called HTTPS (the S stands for secure) it basically does exactly the same thing as HTTP does, but the rules were amended to include a bit about encrypting the messages being send back and forth first.

HTTPS has the advantage of giving you privacy on the web.

One other advantage is authentication. Because of the way encryption works, websites using https have to have something called a certificate. This certificate that they get from trusted authorities can be used like a badge or a personal ID to prove that the website is exactly who they claim to be.

So https does not just give you privacy it also makes sure that nobody is impersonating the website you are trying to view.

The combination of privacy and making sure you got the right website is important for such things as online banking and basically everything else you do online where you don’t want to give anything away.

How to enable HTTPS?

Alright, so now that we know what HTTP and HTTPS are, let’s talk on how you can enable a secure HTTPS connection on your website.

In order to enable HTTPS connection you would need to activate SSL certificate on the hosting server which you use to host your website. Most hosting providers offer an easy integration of the SSL certificate by using their control panel. SSL certificate can also be enabled by using Cloudflare services which are free as well!

In conclusion, HTTPS connection is a secure version of HTTP protocol which is used to transfer website data from server on which it is hosted to your computer. All data going through HTTPS connection is encrypted so no other 3rd parties could access it. In order to enable HTTPS connection, you would need to install and activate an SSL certificate on your hosting server. Usually, most hosting providers offer an easy SSL integration which can be done with just a couple of mouse clicks. Another option is to use Cloudflare which offers their free SSL among many other benefits, about which you can read in more detail HERE.

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